Date of Conferral







Benita L. Stiles-Smith


Research indicates that policing is one of the most challenging and stressful professions worldwide regardless of the size of the police department, specialty area of service, or even geographic location. This study explored workplace stress and related coping strategies as described by police officers in the U.S. Virgin Islands through phenomenological inquiry. In addition to factors of stress and coping, components of culture and current local challenges received focus in the exploration. The research population consisted of 9 Virgin Islands police officers. Underpinning the study was the demand resources individual differences model and Lazarus and Folkman’s stress theory. The research questions addressed how Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) officers described perceived stressors in their lived experiences of work from internal departmental sources and from external community or societal sources, as well as what coping strategies VIPD officers described in their lived experiences dealing with stressors in their work from internal departmental sources and from external community or societal sources. While many of the findings mirrored the stress and coping that police describe in a universal sense, of particular interest relative to isolated and post-colonial location were stressors relating to consent decree, rivalry among islands, citizen complaints, and political stressors. The findings may be useful in the process of making necessary rehabilitative changes in U.S. Virgin Islands police services through providing meaningful insights for future reforms supportive of the police force.