The Case for Further Research into the Mental and Psychological Effects of Long- Term Exposure to Traumatic and Violent Events for Law Enforcement Officers
Ternarian A. Warren, Ph.D., MA; Jimmie S. Warren, DM, MBA (GM)

Police officers are exposed to more violent or traumatic events or images than most people will encounter in a lifetime. Researchers have shown that treatment for mental health issues are avoided by police officers due to lack of trust toward police administrators and believe they will be subject to administrative leave, desk duty, have their service weapon taken away, or passed over for promotions. The cognitive theory suggests that individuals who maintain negative or traumatic information in long-term memory are vulnerable to mental illness, a decrease in empathy, unstable emotional and behavioral responses, interpersonal problems, and an increase in aggressive behaviors. This paper provides an argument in support of the need for a continued examination of the relationship between police officers’ frequent exposure to violence, traumatic events and images and its effect on the long-term mental health issues and significant decreases in cognitive empathy or human compassion within police officers.

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