By Saul Roth
Police officers are an everyday sight. They are seen patrolling, writing tickets, directing traffic, responding to calls and much more. Stories about police officers are read and seen on television and in the movies every day.
Most of the storylines portray police officers doing a good job. There are also many negative stories, however. Some of the stories are false, while others are true. These days, there are many applicants eager to serve society and fellow citizens.
Before a new recruit enters the police academy, he or she goes through extensive testing. There is the civil service entrance examination, physical fitness test, medical examination, psychological testing, and an interview. By the time a police department hires a recruit for the police academy, he or she should be among the most qualified candidates.
Police officers have different personalities and different motivations for entering the field. There are police recruits who will be happy being police officers throughout their entire career. On the other hand, there are the recruits who will want to go up the ranks as well as those that will be career investigators. No matter what type of person or type of career the new recruit will pursue, the police department is going to change him or her.
A police officer will be responding to all types of calls throughout his or her career. He or she will see the best and the worst in people, from seeing babies born to witnessing horrific crime scenes. He or she will witness many family disputes and help negotiate problems.
But who is watching out for the police officer’s problems as he or she pursues his or her career? Police officers are exposed to many negative events. In addition, the police officer position requires shift work.
When an officer brings his or her experiences home, family problems can evolve. The officer might use alcohol, for example, to ease his or her difficulties with either experience on the job or family difficulties.
The general public can use anti-depressants. A new recruit, however, may face stigma for the use of anti-depressants or other psychotropic medications.
Similarly, veteran police officers may face negative consequences if it is discovered that they have mental health issues (e.g., loss of right to carry a weapon); some may feel pressured to conceal their mental health issues for fear of another assignment. For these officers, alcohol can become the drug of choice and some will become alcoholics. Indeed, depression poses a serious threat in the police force, and some officers may resort to suicide as a solution.