Law Enforcement Technology

MAR 2017

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Page 40 of 45 MARCH 2017 LAW ENFORCEMENT TECHNOLOGY 39 talking with someone who can relate to the challenge and who offers both understanding as well as advice on how to manage what you're feeling/ experiencing. Unfortunately, a visit to the agency psychologist brings with it the fear of attached stigma (should any of your workmates find out) and the fear of administrative repercussion because the agency shrink reports up the chain of command. It's a shame that doctor/patient privilege doesn't apply to agency psychologists. The fear of the potential negatives resulting from seeing an agency psy- chologist has been cited as a reason why some officers don't seek help when they desperately need it. In answer to that problem, several services have arisen that offer training in "stress coaching." These coaches are NOT licensed psy- chologists and have no legal mandate to report to the agency. Of course, morals and ethics require them to report cer- tain situations, but in general they are free to focus on the needs of the officer in front of them; the needs of that offi- cer to manage and reduce his/her stress before it becomes intolerable. While some bemoan the existence of unlicensed counselors specifically due to their lack of formal certification, the pros of having them available can't be denied. The training as a stress coach includes information on identifying risk factors and awareness of other services that may be necessary. The reality is that officers are far more likely to seek conversation from another officer on their agency or an allied agency than they are from a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. That fear of up-the-chain reporting, potential loss of credentials (however temporary it may be) and the stigma attached to any type of stress- related diagnosis remains a critical chal- lenge to overcome. The first and second most recog- nized and commonly recommended stress management techniques above sometimes don't hold a candle to the third: a good support system. A good support system includes an officer's family and friends, coworkers, reli- gious leaders and more. Anyone in that officer's day-to-day life that offers them a positive interaction, emotional support and motivational guidance as they deal with "the job" is a part of their support system. These necessary people can also cause us stress but it's usually non- work related stress. It helps to recog- nize that those people who sometimes cause stress more often than not help you to reduce work stress and manage what you can't eliminate. In an ideal world, the officer is healthy and has great communication skills that allow them to communicate any stress challenges to a fantastic coach who offers sound advice. The officer goes home to a supportive family or spends time with a similarly supportive group of friends outside of work. In that ideal world, stress from "the job" rarely becomes a challenge and never becomes overwhelming. Together, our law enforcement com- munity continues to work towards that goal—as well we should. X Editor's Note: Pamela Kulbarsh's article "Police Suicides in 2016" can be found at GPI Inc. - 900mhz Wireless Microphone system - a specialist in OEM/ ODM Customization Website: www. Email: Circle 69 on Reader Service Card Circle 68 on Reader Service Card

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