The psychological well-being of police will be scientifically analysed in an Australian first, with the aim of preventing post traumatic stress disorder.
A three-year research project will survey NSW police and use their responses to conduct the first known analysis of how officers react in the face of adversity and what makes them resilient.
NSW Police Force Commissioner Andrew Scipione said that officers were just like any other member of the community and also needed help.
“This is about stopping them getting sick rather than fixing them up when they do,” Mr Scipione said on Tuesday.
“We aim to help officers become more resilient, assist those already suffering PTSD to achieve better mental health outcomes and allow us to better help officers who have already disengaged.”
“At the one job, one officer can break down and suffer very badly and another doesn’t – why?” he said. “What makes one person more resilient than another?”
Officers, as well as their family members, will be surveyed by researchers from the Australian Catholic University and University of Western Sydney, and the data will be used to help build future policies and training programs.
Police from all ranks and regions will be asked about their work patterns, job satisfaction and health status.
Mr Scipione said retention levels had improved in the past 20 years, when the force would lose about 80 officers a month compared to about 20 a month in 2014.
State Police Minister Stuart Ayres said the research would help tailor the best solutions for the Force.
“We recognise that after helping members of the community, officers sometimes need help themselves,” he said.
This article first appeared on ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 15 July 2014.