Originally Published In
The Alabama Counseling Association Journal
Violent, traumatic, and stressful work situations are common for law enforcement officers (LEOs). LEOs are susceptible to stressful situations that impact their emotions and have the ability to affect job performance. This phenomenological study focused on identification of how traumatic incidents affected 10 LEOs from 2 rural law enforcement agencies from a rural community in the southeastern United States. Participants were interviewed regarding the experience of how encountering or witnessing traumatic events impacted their emotions during and after the incident, coping mechanisms they implemented, views on seeking mental health treatment, and importance of peer support. Findings indicated that LEOs expressed significant emotional distress as a result of traumatic incidents, most specifically when responding to incidents involving children. Additionally, they compartmentalized feelings in order to remain professional and perform job.