Under Siege: The Psychological Impact on Law Enforcement in These Troubled Times

Under Siege: The Psychological Impact on Law Enforcement in These Troubled Times
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-08-19
Unit 1Slide Deck: Under Siege
Unit 2Transcript: Under Siege
Unit 3Workbook: Under Siege
Unit 4Recording: Under Siege

The law enforcement profession is demanding to say the least. In a career where one is deployed to some of the most dangerous and daunting situations, it requires those who are sworn to serve and protect to have strength – not just in the physical sense but also psychologically. Especially these days when the socio-political climate is subjecting officers to public scrutiny and the action of one is reflected upon the whole agency, if not industry.

This session’s speaker is Dr. Grant McDougall. He is a board member of the National Sheriff’s Association’s Psychological Services Section. He is a nationally recognized expert, keynote speaker, and trainer on trauma, officer-involved critical incidents, law enforcement suicide, and the psychology of mass shootings and has shared his expertise with agencies across the US. He also provides psychological services for numerous law enforcement agencies within Florida.

Specifics of the webinar include:

  • A brief discussion of how the law enforcement profession can create callouses that can change an individual.
  • The definition of stress, how it impacts people’s health, finances, and emotions, and its sources for those in the law enforcement frontlines.
  • Multiple studies and statistics were presented to demonstrate…
    • How law enforcement officers and their work attitudes are impacted by recent events involving the profession.
    • The psychological conditions that law enforcement officers are suffering from.
    • The increased attrition and drop in recruitment within the profession.
    • The public’s trust in law enforcement and perspectives on its budget.
    • How stigma in law enforcement is hindering officers from getting the help they need to deal with stress and trauma.
  • What is trauma, how critical incidents that first responders are exposed to cause trauma, and the relative definition of normal and traumatic.
  • Big T trauma: What it is, the specific events that constitute the high-risk list, and its effect.
  • Small T trauma: How it happens, manifests, and its long-term results.
  • The concept of cumulative trauma, what causes it, and the outcomes of cumulative trauma in both the professional and personal aspects of an officer’s life.
  • Cultural elements in the law enforcement profession that serve as barriers to help-seeking.
  • The unfortunate outcomes of failing to get help for both the individuals and the organization.
  • Things that the leadership and the law enforcement frontline can do to address the psychological impact of the profession on its people.
    • Leaders initiating positive relationships and engagement and openly demonstrating support for officers exhibiting exemplary behavior to boost morale.
    • Debunking mental health myths, removing shame with mental health struggles, and normalizing seeking help to address these.
    • Making it known that trauma response is treatable, and it is unlikely to be diagnosed with any mental illness.
    • Promoting open communication and talk as a form of therapy.
    • Encouraging work-life balance, the idea of stepping away from work, mindfulness when consuming information, and allocating time for things that one truly values.
    • Developing emotional resilience to better deal with adversity, stress, and potential trauma.

Points tackled in the Q&A are about:

  • Building resiliency and providing support as effective prevention/intervention/treatment.
  • Approaches to employ for intervention/treatment based on the cultural dynamics.
  • The difference between PTSD, cumulative trauma, and secondary/vicarious trauma.
  • The importance of the therapist’s familiarity with the nuances and demands of the profession to be truly effective in supporting law enforcement personnel.
  • How clergy and chaplains can provide support outside of the religious context.
  • Confidentiality/HIPAA concerns for officers seeking mental health help.



Other Webinars with this Speaker:


Or click here to view and register for other upcoming NSA webinars on the JCH Platform.


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “Dr. McDougall was fantastic.” — Bruce
  • “Dr. McDougall offered so much good information on OSW/MH for officers – very informative!” — Christine
  • “I’ve enjoyed the Justice Clearinghouse trainings but this was by far one of my most FAVORITE! Excellent seminar and valuable information.” — Corinne
  • “Confirms all that I do with Law Enforcement. Rare that I agree totally with presentations but this was a homerun.” — David
  • “Thank you. Very refreshing to hear a training on this topic that isn’t overly focused on being “politically correct”. Very informative and helpful without being triggering based on current events in our country.” — Deborah
  • “The statistical information regarding how police work is viewed among those in law enforcement was great data to receive. It allowed me to see that other agencies are experiencing the same morale issues as mine. It gave me hope that this is recognized and being worked on for improvement. The candid way Dr. McDougal spoke about things was refreshing.” — Georgette
  • “The presenter was VERY good. …the way this gentleman presented the information and the polling questions he used were terrific. Use this one as an example to others.” — Jill



** This webinar has been certified by the National Sheriffs' Association and may be eligible for Continuing Education Units through your POST. Please consult your local certification processes for additional details. Paid subscribers that attend will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Sheriffs' Association logo.
Additional Resources
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