Police Officers and Occupational Stress: A Phenomenological Study

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Rational well-being is a vital function of a public safety officer's overall health. An unknown amount of law enforcement officers currently endures occupational stress because of the chosen profession. Executives and leaders of law enforcement agencies need information, strategies, and training on how to effectively support and aid officers experiencing job-related, occupational stressors toward resiliency. Previous research focuses on police officer suicides rather than the lived experiences and coping techniques from job-related, occupational stress. The phenomenological study looked to explore the lived experiences of law enforcement officers' perceptions of occupational stressors endured and mitigation methods used to combat stressful feelings toward a resilient mindset. The research questions focused on police officers who have had exposure to cumulative occupational stress and distressing events and perceptions on coping methods. Data were gathered using 29 participants from an online questionnaire and interviews via Zoom. The open-ended questionnaire was sent to over 300 members of the Wounded Officers Initiative (WOI) in the southeast United States. Data from the study revealed police officers experienced job-related stress and used various forms of coping methods. Participants also identified a burnout phase resulting from emotional exhaustion.