Date of Conferral
Police officers who maintain negative or traumatic information in long-term memory are vulnerable to mental illness, unstable emotional and behavioral responses, interpersonal problems, and impaired social relationships. The cognitive theory suggests that police officers externalize various negative or maladaptive behaviors as a result of frequent exposure to traumatic events. Researchers have found that police officers tend to either not seek mental health treatment, try to fix their own mental health problem, or if in treatment will not be forthcoming with internalized thoughts of psychological distress. The intention of this research was to examine the relationship between police officers' frequent exposure to violence and traumatic events/images and its effect on the long-term mental health issues and significant decreases in cognitive empathy or human compassion within police officers. This quantitative study used a simple linear regression, descriptive analysis, correlational matrix to analyze the data gathered from assessment packets containing a Trauma Symptom Inventory-2A, Paulhus Deception Scale, JHU Project Shields Questionnaire, and a Compassion Scale. Assessment packets were distributed during roll calls to active male and female Norfolk Police Officers assigned to the Patrol Divisions, Detective Division, and Vice/Narcotic Division. A priori power analysis revealed 65 participants were needed to have a valid sample. There were 66 completed assessment packets collected from the researcher's secure drop boxes. The findings were statistically significant suggesting a need for continued research. To effect positive social change, mental health workers and police organizations will use this data to assist in policy construction and mental health training.