Military, police collaborating to de-stress traumatised personnel

September 18th, 2008 - 5:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 18 (IANS) Military and police personnel, deployed in some of the most volatile global hotspots, undergo traumatic experiences triggered by the presence of mangled bodies, gunfire and dying children.They may become withdrawn or suppress their emotions to get on with the job, rarely sharing their experiences with others.

Lt. Col. (retired) Mark Chapin, professor at Case Western Reserve University, focused on how this collaboration - among the first in the US between military combat experts and a local police force - has worked to reduce job stress.

“Police officers face job stress in the line of duty 24 hours a day. Even the toughest officer can eventually feel it. We want to change the operational climate of silence about problems and the stigma toward seeking help,” said Lt. Col. Chapin, one of the trainers.

The city’s programme, funded by a grant from the Cleveland Foundation, has trained more than 80 commanders and supervisors who oversee the Cleveland Police Department’s nearly 1,600 personnel, reports Eurekalert.

“Police work is highly stressful and one of the few occupations where an individual continually faces the inherent danger of physical violence and the potential of sudden death,” said Mark Singer, who helped design the programme.

He has spent 15 years working with police, riding along with them regularly as they patrol Cleveland’s neighbourhoods.

Supervisors and patrol officers have tri-fold laminated cards providing the warning signs of operational stress. The commanders’ and supervisors’ cards outline symptoms of stress.

The line officers’ cards list physical and emotional symptoms of stress, provide information about recovery from operational fatigue and suggest ways of protecting both the officers and their partners.

These results were published in the September issue of Police Quarterly.

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