Counseling Chapter 6 A combination of shared norms, values, goals, career patterns, lifestyles

Document Type
Homework Help
Book Title
An Introduction to Policing 9th Edition
John S. Dempsey, Linda S. Forst, Steven B. Carter
Chapter 6
Police Culture, Personality, and Stress
Learning Objectives
LO1 Explain the police subculture and why it results in the blue wall of silence.
LO2 Characterize the police personality and how it is expressed.
Lesson Plan
Correlated to PowerPoints
I. The Police Culture or Subculture
Learning Objective 1: Explain the police subculture and why it results in the blue wall of
Class Discussion/Activity:
Explain what the police culture or subculture is and how it expresses itself.
1. A combination of shared norms, values, goals, career patterns, lifestyles, and
2. Like most subcultures, is characterized by clannishness, secrecy, and isolation
from those not in the group
3. The ideal officer, according to the police subculture, takes risks (honor), is first on
B. Traits of the Police Culture/Subculture
2. Isolation from the public
4. Honor
6. Individuality
C. The Blue Wall of Silence
Media Tool
20/20: Police Privilege and code of Silence part1
o 20/20 investigation of police “Code of Silence”—the Blue Wall of Silence
o Discussion: Discuss what this video says about the Blue Wall of Silence. Do you believe
that this type of behavior goes on today?
1. Part of the police culture or the police subculture produces a protective barrier
known as the blue wall of silence.
2. Police values produce the blue curtainpolice officers only trust other police
3. Police officers protect one another from outsiders, often even refusing to aid
What If Scenario
You are a new officer who is currently on probation. You have just been involved in a pursuit of a
vehicle that was eventually pulled over by another officer. When you approach the vehicle you are
told to go back to your patrol car and leave the scene. Later you find out the suspect vehicle in the
pursuit was an off-duty officer and that nothing was done to that officer. What should you do?
II. The Police Personality
Learning Objective 2: Characterize the police personality and how it is expressed.
A. What Is the Police Personality?
1. The police officer’s working personality is shaped by constant exposure to danger
2. Traits of the Police Personality
a. Authoritarianism
3. An officer’s working personality: danger, authority, and isolation from the public
B. Is the Police Personality Innate or Learned?
1. Two opposing viewpoints
a. Police departments recruit people who by nature possess those traits that
2. TestingMinnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)standard
questions and Arthur Niederhoffer’s cynicism scale.
See Assignment 1
C. Police Cynicism
D. The Dirty Harry Problem
Media Tool
“Dirty Harry—Do You Feel Lucky”
o Movie cut from the Dirty Harry movie
o Discussion: Discuss what you see on the video. What would you do in a similar situation?
Was this good police work? Why or why not? Does this happen today?
1. Police officers are often confronted with situations in which they feel forced to
take certain illegal actions to achieve a greater good.
3. Can this lead to ethical problems facing police?
What If Scenario
You are a patrol deputy and while in briefing, your sergeant makes the statement that “if you are
involved in a fight with a suspect, they better be going to jail via the hospital.” What message is
this sending to the troops and should you just leave it alone or report it to someone? Why?
III. Police Stress
Learning Objective 3: Explain why levels of stress are higher in policing than other
Class Discussion/Activity:
Give some reasons why police officers experience high levels of stress.
A. What Is Stress?
1. The term stress is used to refer to both the body’s reaction and the stimuli that
caused it.
2. Flight-or-fight response
a. The body’s reaction to highly stressful situations is known as the flight-
or-fight response.
B. Nature of Stress in Policing
See Assignment 2
1. External stress
3. Personal stress
4. Operational stress
C. Factors Causing Stress in Policing
2. Substandard equipment
4. Lack of opportunity
6. Exposure to brutality
8. Lack of job satisfaction
10. Lack of emphasis on physical fitness once an officer leaves the academy
11. Suicide by cop
Class Discussion/Activity:
What is “suicide by cop”? Give some examples.
Media Tool
Reality Training: Encountering a “Suicide by Cop” Situation
o Video of standoff between police and subject who appears to be armed and with no
intention of complying with officers
o Discussion: Discuss what you see on the video. Is the use of the force reasonable? Is the
subject a threat, actively resisting or fleeing? What would you do?
12. Police as Victims
a. Officers involved in suicide by cop experience short-term and long-term
See Assignment 3
D. Effects of Stress on Police Officers
2. Emotional detachment from various aspects of daily life
4. Absenteeism and early retirement
6. Alcoholism and other substance abuse problems
8. Heart attacks, ulcers, weight gain, and other health problems
10. Posttraumatic stress disorder: If signs and symptoms of stress are identified after a
critical incident:
Class Discussion/Activity:
Discuss the physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral signs and symptoms of Posttraumatic
stress disorder.
a. Limit exposure to noise and orders
b. Dictate an immediate 15-minute rest break
11. Mandatory Counseling
a. Individuals involved in a traumatic event should attend critical incident
See Assignment 4
F. Stress and Police Families
1. Family disruption due to rotation shifts
3. Job-related personal change and family relationships
5. Intrusion into family life
G. Police Departments Dealing with Stress
Class Discussion/Activity:
Discuss what police departments can do to deal with the high levels of stress present in their
1. Employee assistance programs
3. National Institute of Justices Corrections and Law Enforcement Family Support
4. Training programs and support groups for police officers and their families
IV. Police Suicide
Learning Objective 4: Identify and discuss the causes of police suicide and how officer suicide
affects an agency.
See Assignment 5
1. The severity of the problem must be acknowledged and openly addressed by both
3. Supervisors must be alert to signs of depression and other problems that may
signal the possibility of suicidal thoughts.
What If Scenario
You are an officer who works with the same partner every shift. You notice your partner has been
depressed lately and is asking questions and making statements that make you think she might be
considering suicide. What should you do?
4. There must be a convenient and nonstigmatizing system for referring distressed
officers for psychological help.
5. When the acute crisis has passed, referral to a mental health clinician is crucial in
7. The suicide rate for police officers is three to six times that of the general
V. Police Danger
Learning Objective 5: Describe and discuss the occupational dangers to the health and safety of
See Assignment 6
2. In 2015, 48 law enforcement officers were feloniously slain in the line of duty.
Thirty-eight of them were slain with firearms.
Class Discussion/Activity:
Discuss the role of firearms in the killings of police officers.
2. Accidentally killed
3. National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (NLEOM)
B. Officers Assaulted in the Line of Duty
2. About 32 percent of the assaults occurred while officers were responding to
disturbance calls (2015).
4. 12 percent while handling, transporting, or otherwise having custody of prisoners
C. Police and Contagious Diseases
1. Police officers frequently come into contact with all types of peopleincluding
those having infectious diseasesand officers often have contact with blood and
other body fluids.
2. Officers are at special risk for catching communicable diseases.
What If Scenario
You are the supervisor on a patrol shift. Your officers have just returned to station after coming
in contact with a suspect who has open sores on his arms and legs and abscesses on his face.
What precautions should your officers take and what would you have them do?
VI. Summary
Lecture Notes
1. Is there such a thing as a police culture?
The word culture refers to patterns of human activity or the way of life for a society. It generally
includes informal codes or rules of manners, dress, language, behavior, rituals, and systems of
2. What is the Dirty Harry problem?
Dirty Harry refers to a character, Detective Harry Callahan, from the 1971 film Dirty Harry. In
3. What are some causes of police stress?
The very nature of police work is stressful. Stress is defined as the body’s reaction to internal or
external stimuli that upset the body’s normal state and create a flight-or-fight response. Police
4. Why do so many police officers commit suicide?
A 2006 study reported that the suicide rate for police officers is three times that of the general
population, and three times as many officers kill themselves as are killed by criminals in the line
of duty. Why are there so many suicides among police? Some of the same factors that contribute
5. What dangers do police face in the field?
In a typical tour of duty, officers can deal with the full range of human emotions. Furthermore,
Key Terms
AIDS Acquired immune deficiency syndrome. (p. 184)
blue curtain A concept developed by William Westley that claims police officers only trust
other police officers and do not aid in the investigation of wrongdoing by other officers. (p. 165)
blue wall of silence A figurative protective barrier erected by the police in which officers protect
one another from outsiders, often even refusing to aid police superiors or other law enforcement
Dirty Harry problem A moral dilemma faced by police officers in which they may feel forced
to take certain illegal actions to achieve a greater good. (p. 168)
flight-or-fight response The body’s reaction to highly stressful situations in which it is getting
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (NLEOM) A memorial in Washington, D.C.,
established to recognize the ultimate sacrifice of police officers killed in the line of duty. (p. 182)
police culture or police subculture A combination of shared norms, values, goals, career
patterns, lifestyles, and occupational structures that is somewhat different from the combination
police cynicism An attitude that there is no hope for the world and a view of humanity at its
police personality Traits common to most police officers. Scholars have reported that this
personality is thought to include such traits as authoritarianism, suspicion, hostility, insecurity,
police suicide The intentional taking of one’s own life by a police officer. (p. 179)
suicide by cop The phenomenon in which a person wishing to die deliberately places an officer
1. Interview a police officer about the police socialization process and ask the officer if and
how he or she thinks it affects police officers. [LO 2]
2. Think about how you currently deal with stress, and develop a plan to help you handle
3. Research the issues of police suicide and suicide by cop. Discuss how these events affect
4. Research Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how it is specifically related to law
enforcement. What can departments do to help employees who may be suffering from
5. Research prevention of police officer depression and suicide. What can and should be
6. Using the Internet, conduct research into examples of law enforcement officers killed in
the line of duty. What types of activities were the officers involved in prior to their
deaths? Discuss the reactions of the public, the media, and other law enforcement officers

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