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Does the job of a police officer have mental and physical stress, how hard is it to make those stressful decisions?

I would like to know how the body and the mind react to the stress

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Amanda’s Answer

Hi Zaybriel—

I am not a police officer, but I am a police wife. I have been with my husband for the 22 years he has been an officer and a detective in the 2nd largest county in the nation. He has a graduate degree in criminal justice, and currently works in a the Violent Crimes Unit.

I think every person will have a different answer and he’d likely answer different than I will for him, but I can tell you the mental and physical stress is tremendous. He was hit by a drunk driver at 27 while on duty and didn’t walk for a year. He spent a week in ICU unconscious on another incident. He has seen atrocities that make him fearful and extra protective of our kids. He has other health problems from the stress. He ended up with a heart condition and high blood pressure that he now takes care of with medication, exercise and meditation.

He has also saved children from predators, captured fugitives, and worked tirelessly so that victims could sleep again knowing that the people who hurt them couldn’t do it again. Despite all of the physical toll, he’d do it again. Here’s what I’ve learned… the real police, the good police, they are called to do the job and protect people. They can’t walk away.

If this is your calling, just be sure to take care of yourself first. My husband had to learn that he couldn’t save people if he wasn’t whole. It often takes the good guys too long to learn that.


All the best,
Amanda
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Jacob’s Answer

The training you undertake is designed to mimic the pressures of real-world stress. But what does that mean for you, practically? We all have instinctual reactions - fight, flight, or freeze. These responses kick in when we feel out of control, when the situation we're in is too overwhelming to process. The training you're going through is there to instill confidence in you, to help you navigate any situation with poise and assurance. As you gain experience over the years, you'll be paired with a seasoned partner who will guide you, sharing their knowledge and expertise.

The harmony between your body and mind is crucial. It's all about building enough confidence to override your brain's initial panic response, preventing you from freezing up and putting your partner in danger. Not everyone may get to experience this, but the key is to anticipate the unexpected and be prepared for it, always.

Your ability to manage stressful situations will be determined by how much you're willing to push yourself. Not everyone can witness harsh realities and immediately spring into action. If you anticipate struggling with this, it's important to keep pushing your boundaries, to strive for your goals and expose yourself to a variety of situations. This way, you avoid getting stuck in a mindset where you feel lost and helpless.

Yes, dealing with stress can be challenging, and coming home after a hard day may make you question if it's all worth it. But always remember why you chose this path. You're here to serve, to protect, to defend your loved ones, no matter the time or place. Keep that purpose in mind, and it will guide you through the toughest of times.

Jacob recommends the following next steps:

Put yourself in every situation, (be a sponge)
Remember the stages of Flight or Fight and Freeze
Communicate with those you work with and build a bond
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Ezra’s Answer

Greetings,

Indeed, the profession of law enforcement comes with its fair share of mental and physical strain. Physically, officers are required to maintain a robust and fit physique to avoid any hindrances during emergencies. They might face hand-to-hand combat situations, injuries from weapons, or trauma from vehicular accidents. The possibility of harm is a constant reality for officers, putting their lives on the line every time they don their uniforms.

Mentally, the stress can be overwhelming, significantly impacting their decision-making abilities. High-stress situations can lead to a loss of routine skills, causing officers to rely heavily on their training. Maintaining a calm demeanor and thoughtful decision-making during emergencies is crucial.

Additionally, the burden of guilt post an incident, especially if a decision led to the loss of a life, can have a severe impact on an officer's mental well-being. Despite the high-stress and risks associated with law enforcement, it's a profession that garners much appreciation from the public.
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