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Getting Started (From Treating Police Stress: The Work and the Words of Peer Counselors, P 69-81, 2002, John M. Madonna, Jr. and Richard E. Kelly, -- See NCJ-197081)

NCJ Number
John Madonna
Date Published
13 pages
This chapter discusses the reasons why various individual officers agreed to join the Stress Unit of the Worcester Police Department (Massachusetts), along with the types of cases addressed by the unit.
The stress unit was established by Chief Gardella after having participated in a college course on police stress and its effects, particularly the high use of alcohol among fellow officers. Officers who agreed to join the unit did so for a number of reasons, including personal knowledge of and concern about stress-related problems among fellow officers, personal situations that increased awareness of the need for such a unit, and an interest in the psychological dynamics and challenges associated with policing. The types of cases that have been addressed by the stress unit have involved a wide range of circumstances that have included trauma exposure, addictions, relational difficulties, death and dying, stress, suicide intervention, personality disorders, and domestic violence and a host of other family problems. Members of the stress unit have found that police officer stress is either induced or compounded by the varied emotional stimuli that officers experience daily as they perform their duties. They have found that although entry-level officers are well prepared in the areas of police policy and procedures by their academies and departments in the initial phases of their careers, they are not systematically prepared for the experience of powerful emotional stimuli and reactions when confronting various types of situations and incidents likely to be experienced in their work. An appendix presents the following data on stress unit activity for the period 1981-90: case volume and source, client demographics, and selected case information.