Date of Conferral
Researchers have found that law enforcement officers often experience stress. The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine if the size of the law enforcement agency (small, medium, or large) had any significant influence on how police officers perceive stress in their profession from a cognitive appraisal perspective with regards to Administrative/Organizational Pressure, Physical/Psychological Threats, and Lack of Support. Members of law enforcement (N = 144) from Utah and New York were surveyed utilizing Spielberger et al.'s Police Stress Survey. Archival data were provided by the National Police Suicide Foundation. Stress index scores were calculated manually for each survey completed, and then 3 separate ANOVAs were conducted to test the hypothesis. The results showed that officers from medium-sized departments perceive greater amounts of stress than those in large or small departments in the area of administrative/organizational pressure, while officers from large police departments perceived greater amounts of stress than their counterparts in small and medium-sized agencies in the areas of physical/psychological threats and lack of support. This study has implications for positive social change: understanding the stressors that police officer's face each day can help forensic psychologists understand the methods necessary to repair the strained relationship between the community and members of law enforcement; understanding the stressors can also open a pathway for researchers to begin the process of developing more a productive dialogue between police officers, their departmental leaders, and the communities they protect, which should begin during the early phases of academy training.