Organizational Stressors for Patrol Officers

Organizational Stressors for Patrol Officers:

The work of many local enforcement officers such as patrol officers causes them to feel stressed due to various factors. These officers feel stressed because of factors associated with the organization and those attributed to the nature of their work. Since law enforcement personnel face stressful situations on a daily basis, law enforcement is generally regarded as an intrinsically stressful profession or occupation. Therefore, identifying and understanding these stressors, their sources, effects, and several means of dealing with them is crucial for promoting the quality of life and work of police officers. Police officers can have a more satisfying life and work if their departments understand stressors and develop effective ways of dealing with them.

One of the major factors that contribute to stress for patrol officers on a day-to-day basis is organizational stressors. According to Adrian Schoolcraft, one of the organizational stressor for patrol officers is the demand by the departments to do several kinds of things that cops should not engage in or are not supposed to do (“Right to Remain Silent,” 2010). The organizations place huge demands and pressures on these officers while they carry out their day-to-day duties. For instance, patrol officers are required to write more tickets, arrest more suspects for low level crimes that they would otherwise let go, and conduct more stop-and-frisks in order to increase their numbers. Secondly, patrol officers are threatened by their officers so that they can deliver their numbers. While it is against the law, these officers are subject to disciplinary action like transfers, change of partner, loss of assignment, worse assignments, and foot post if they do not hit their targets. The third organizational stressor that patrol officers must deal with on a day-to-day basis is out-of-line orders that they are given. These out-of-line orders are against the law such as an order to do more stop-and-frisks randomly in the streets without reasonable suspicion as required by the law and orders to arrest everyone they see.

The pressures and demands that cause stress to patrol officers are partly attributed to the organizational and societal stressors that their supervisors experience. The main societal stressor for Schoolcraft’s supervisors was the kind of neighborhood they operating in. This police department was located in Brooklyn, precinct 81, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which was a rough neighborhood that was not only consisted of a huge black population but was also slowly gentrifying (“Right to Remain Silent,” 2010). The neighborhood was characterized with increased criminal offenses, particularly a high rate of murder cases. Therefore, there was increased pressure for the local police department and supervisors to fight crime, which contributes to stress. The second societal stressor for these supervisors is the increase in the rate of serious crimes from 10 to 15% despite of measures taken by the department to fight crime. The main organizational stressor for Schoolcraft’s supervisors was the need to show that the local police department was doing a better job in fighting crime in the neighborhood. As a result, when real and serious crimes took place, the department would reclassify them as lesser offenses to show that it was doing a better job in driving down the rates of crime.

The top-down approach has commonly been used as the model for managing large police departments in attempts to enforce greater accountability on personnel and enhance professionalism. However, these departments can be managed using a different model than the top-down approach because of advances in different policing methods and technologies. The use of a different model would be crucial in dealing with the greater rift that these methods and technologies have created between the police and the community. Moreover, a different approach would enable police to have increased awareness and involvement in problems and challenges of the communities they serve. In essence, large police departments require a different model in order to deal with the weaknesses of a top-down approach.


“Right to Remain Silent.” (2010, September 10). This American Life. Retrieved January 6, 2014,


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