The Toll

Force Science News is a scientific research organization out of Minnesota that  does studies specifically related to law enforcement. They have provided helpful insights into numerous aspects of this job that are so often understood by the general public. For example, they recently published a study revealing and documenting how they eyes has inattentional blindness when a suspect is displaying a gun.

The most recent study I read was on the dismal toll of police stress.”  The study was done by The International Journal of Emergency Mental Health. Below are some excerpts from the study:

  • “Policing,” writes Dr. John Violanti, one of the leading researchers of law enforcement stress, “is psychologically stressful work filled with danger, high demands, ambiguity in encounters, human misery, and exposure to death.”
  •  For a significant number of cops, the worst part of the job will likely be its long-term negative impact on personal health and wellbeing, ranging from heart problems to cancer to suicide as identified in recent research.
  • Officers are nearly twice as likely as civilians to suffer symptoms of depression (12% vs. 6.8%), significantly more show evidence of the metabolic syndrome believed to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes (25% vs. 18.7%), and nearly four times more likely to sleep less than six hours out of every 24 (31.4% vs. 8%).
  • Sleep problems deepen as stressful feelings intensify. Male officers who perceive themselves having the highest stress levels are nearly six times more likely to get poor and inadequate sleep than the least stressed officers; females nearly four times more likely. Poor sleep adversely affects “emotional regulation,” and as sleep quality deteriorates depression symptoms escalate significantly among both male and female officers.
  • After a 55-year retrospective of more than 3,200 officers, he reports that suicide rates are 8.4 times higher in working officers, compared to retired officers or those who left law enforcement.
  • The risk of brain cancer [among officers], although only slightly elevated relative to the general population, [is] significantly increased with 30 years or more of police service.
  • “The police culture doesn’t look favorably on people who have problems,” Dr. Violanti says. “Not only are you supposed to be superhuman if you’re an officer, but you fear asking for help.” Officers who reveal that they suffer from a chronic disease or health deficiency may lose financial status, professional reputation, or both, he explains.

I read this and I see another reason why I would never do this job unless I was a Christian who believed in the sovereignty of God. Psalm 139:16 is ammunition against me fretting or worrying about the toll this job may take on me.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

God knows the end from the beginning and he knows when I will breathe my last breath. Worry, anxiety or fear have no place regarding my life because God’s rule is absolute. Nothing can happen to me apart from him allowing it and he works all things together for my good.

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About justicetheline

Above all I am a Christian Hedonist pursuing my ultimate satisfaction and joy in God. This blog contains postings about what God is teaching me through his Word, is an outlet for some of my photography, and will occasionally include stories about my experiences as a deputy sheriff on patrol. View all posts by justicetheline

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