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Criminal Justice


Tony Gaskew


Police officers are exposed to occupational stressors that can negatively affect their job performance. Spirituality has received scholarly attention as a potential therapeutic strategy to assist individuals working under stressful conditions. Research indicated that police culture often overlooks the spiritual well-being of police officers. Much of the police literature on stress and spirituality has been examined using quantitative methods of inquiry. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore police officers' perceptions regarding the use of spirituality to manage occupational stress and job performance. Fry's spiritual leadership theory provided the framework for the study. Semistructured interviews with a purposive sample of 6 participants were analyzed for codes and themes using Colaizzi's descriptive phenomenological method. Findings revealed that participants used their spirituality to cope with police stress and improve job performance, which created a healthy work-life balance, enhanced decision-making, and provided a greater sense of self-awareness. Consistent with spiritual leadership theory, participants perceived police work as a noble calling and that spirituality through faith-based belief systems and a deep connection to the communities they serve had a meaningful impact on their well-being and commitment to the organization. Findings may encourage law enforcement leaders, administrators, and trainers to recognize the possible benefits of nurturing the spiritual dimension within officers and to consider incorporating spirituality into standard training practices, organizational policies, and employee wellness programs.

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