Criminal Justice Faculty Publications and Presentations

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This paper reviews the concept of police subculture and examines its role in the management and acceptance of treatment for stress-related injury. In particular, we examine the impact of stigma that attaches to treatment within this subculture. The persistence of the dominant police subculture remains a significant obstacle to officers seeking treatment for stress-related illnesses. The subculture has historically resisted acknowledging the need for treatment in response to the occupational and/or organizational stress-related injury that results from frequent exposure to work-related trauma. Many police administrators are still embedded within and resist changes to the subculture, which results in an atmosphere that is unwelcoming to officers seeking or accepting treatment. This study draws on both qualitative and quantitative studies and modifies labeling theory to determine the sources of stigma involved in the police subculture. The paper reviews the reasons why officers refuse treatment, discusses the issue of stigmatization and labeling, and argues for the need to change police subculture, at least in part by ensuring that administrators support treatment and good health for officers. It is revealed that the stigmatization of officers who seek and receive treatment directly results in others’ refusal/rejection of it. The study recommends that departments address the subcultural processes of labeling and stigmatization associated with stress counseling at the individual, management, and organizational levels to bring about a shift in police subculture and improve the level of occupational health and safety for officers on the force.

Publication Title

Journal of Health Ethics





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