Teambuilding Attitude Conflict Transformation© Training and Neuroscience

Law enforcement agencies are under intense pressure to change; corrections for its inability to significantly reduce recidivism and its high costs; police agencies because of over aggressive officers and their hostile relationship with minority communities. These issues are directly related to the fact that both correctional officers and police officers suffer from toxic stress with devastating consequences; high rates of PTSD, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, obesity, marital conflict [divorce], alcohol/drug abuse, suicide and a shortened life span of 20 years. Agencies realize this crisis, but have been frustrated in their efforts to effectively deal with it. A number of agencies have introduced programs to help reduce officer stress, among them are Cop2Cop, peer support and crisis intervention support initiatives. These may be valuable, but they are not the answer in themselves. Existing literature on crisis-focused psychological intervention programs, including both Critical Incident Stress Debriefing and Critical Incident Stress Management lack rigorous research making it difficult to attribute any positive findings about the effects of this intervention. (Cohen 221) Further, a meta-analysis of stress management interventions failed to identify any significant effects of those interventions on physical, behavioral and physiological forms of stress. (Cohen 216) These interventions focus on the damaging effects of stress rather than preventing the stress from occurring in the first place. They focus on the symptom rather than the root cause, which is the toxic work culture. It is easier to try to lower individual staff member’s stress level than to change the agencies work culture, in which its members are invested.