Stress is defined as anything that can place an adjustive demand on any living organism (Charles etal, 2012). Distress refers to negative stress while eustress refers to positive stress. Hence, not all stressful events are depressing. For instance, stress can excite a gambler and thrill a matador athlete. In other words the occurrence of stress does not necessarily mean that there will be any sort of distress. However, the escalation of stress can eventually incapacitate an individual. There are clear signs that indicate the presence of such kind of stress which can eventually lead an individual into committing suicide.
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A police officer like any other person is not immune to stress. Studies indicate that a police officer is more likely to commit suicide than a civilian. A police officer who was performing well and who drastically fails to perform for a prolonged period of time may be going through severe periods of stress (Charles etal, 2012). In such a situation, urgent action should be taken to help the police officer to cope with stress before it is too late. Severe depression among police officers has been known to result in homicide involving a close relative or friend and eventual suicide of the police officer. Officers who appear depressed, sad, hopeless and discouraged should be supervised and accorded necessary help. A sign to look out for is a flat mood during an interview. The officer could be feeling anxious and may be experiencing bodily aches that do not go away easily. Other signs of severe stress among police officers include a history of suicidal attempts and mental illness.
There are five phases in a critical incident and individuals react differently in each phase. In the first phase, the police officer is concerned about pulling the trigger. Failure to pull the trigger can lead to the loss of the life of a fellow police officer. The second phase involves actual killing which takes place reflexively. The third phase known as exhilaration tests an officers ability to put theory into action (Charles etal, 2012). Vast amounts of adrenaline are released at this stage. This has the potential of affecting an officer’s nervous system. The result is that the officer that was involved in the killing will in future hesitate to use deadly force where it is highly recommended or use it where it is not required. This is referred to as combat addiction.
The recoil, remorse and nausea phase is the forth phase and is associated with a killing that takes place in close range. It is characterized by rush of exhilaration. Most police officers who confront their adversaries in close range end up experiencing this type of response. A police officer may suffer from feelings of guilt where he or she feels that the decision to shoot was not well made. The officers in this phase often seem preoccupied and detached. They are often easily annoyed or hypersensitive even when complemented. Other post traumatic symptoms exhibited in this phase include; panic attacks, anxiety, depression, distorted memories, insomnia, fearfulness, helplessness, guilt feeling to name just a few (Charles etal, 2012. This takes a couple of days or weeks prior to killing.
The fifth phase involves rationalization and acceptance of what took place. This is a very long process. In the worst case scenario an officer may not completely recover from the trauma. A police may later come into understanding that the use of deadly force was justified and inevitable. The officer may experience periodic traumas if the resolution he or she arrived at was partial. This happens often during moments of crisis. Nonetheless, an enthusiastic officer is often capable of feeling confident. After all, killing criminals is the prerogative of police officers (Sheldon, 2011). However, things may take the wrong turn and an officer may become incapacitated by the traumatic experience. This eventually leads to the end of an officer’s career. Treatment can help relieve an officer from temporary traumatic experience.
There are several negligent theories that are applicable to police supervisors and managers. This is made clear under vicarious liability or doctrine of respondent superior where a supervisor can be answerable to an officer’s acts or omissions (Sheldon, 2011). The theory of negligent hiring requires supervisors to identify and weed out a police officer who can risk lives. Hence, a police officer who is hired on the basis of forged documents should not be allowed to work and a plaintiff who files a case against such an officer does so against the hiring authority that is held liable for the injuries caused.
The theory of negligent assignment, retention and entrustment requires police administrators to be on the look out of behavioral anomalies of a police officer. Hence, a police officer discovered to be physically abusive and malicious should not be allowed to work in a police force. The administrators will be vicariously liable for any damages that such an officer may cause to the public or fellow police officers. Theory of negligent direction and supervision requires police administrators to develop sound policies and procedures. Everything manual should be in writing and widely published (Charles etal, 2012). Hence, an officer’s actions that deviate from the directions of the manual will exonerate the police administrator from any wrong doing. The theory of negligent training holds police administrators vicariously liable in the event that an officer’s actions stemmed from poor training.
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Charles, R. S., Territo, L. & Taylor, W. R. (2012). Police Administration: Structures, Processes and Behavior, 8th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Publishing Co. Pearson.
Sheldon, R. (2011). A Critical Introduction to the History Of Criminal Justice. Secaucus, NJ: Chart well Books, Inc.