IACM 2022 Abstract Book »
Police Misconduct following Exposure to Potentially Traumatic Events: Evidence and Mitigation Strategies
Public safety personnel who are exposed to many potentially traumatic events (PTEs) – e.g., violent crimes, death, assaults – are at higher risk for mental health disorders and personal life impairments. However, the extent to which PTEs are linked with dysfunctional behaviors at work has not yet been established. This study investigated whether police officers’ exposure to PTEs is linked with subsequent levels of misconduct (i.e., counterproductive work behavior), and also explored whether a stress management counseling intervention helped to mitigate this relationship. Drawing from conservation of resources theory (COR; Hobfoll, 2001), we argue that officers may initiate maladaptive coping behaviors as a way to retain personal resources that have been depleted through PTE exposure. Stress management counseling should help to reduce resource loss and mitigate these maladaptive coping behaviors at work. Results of a multi-year organizational study with a naturalistic intervention during the study period support these theorized relationships.