Trauma in Law Enforcement Professionals

Joshua Hoskins

Blog Post


How to Support Law Enforcement Professionals That Deals with Distressing Material

Law Enforcement professionals are often exposed to terrible atrocities. Whether it be a dead body, child pornography, vehicular accidents, etc., law enforcement professions are often exposed to secondary trauma (Denk-Florea et al. 2020).

Researchers stationed in the United Kingdom expanded on the research into the effects of secondary trauma on law enforcement professionals. They interviewed and studied 22 law enforcement professionals on how they felt and coped (Denk-Florea et al. 2020). Additionally, they discussed the personal strategies these individuals attempt to mitigate the high chances of falling into disassociation mindsets.

The researchers primarily concentrated on the effects of child pornography on the mental fortetitude of the law enforcement profession. What they discovered was that over time was that they were becoming apathetic towards the material they were viewing (Denk-Florea et al. 2020). The researchers discovered there existed an increase need for mediation in the field to better develop recilient law enforcement professionals (Denk-Florea et al. 2020). In conjunction with apathetic mindset, burnout was an increase risk factor for most of the test subjects.

The subjects discussed their personal approaches to selfcare and what helped them before they had to view the material. Some discussed they mentally prepared; while others felt better after talking to a trained professional or a close friend about the incident (Denk-Florea et al. 2020).

When asked what the subjects wished to see for improvement, they wanted an increased in supervision involvement, better psychological help, and other methods to build resiliency. (Denk-Florea et al. 2020).

The study was thorough and a quick read. It shone light on different methods to mitigate risks for mental health issues within law enforcement personnel. It was interesting to see that other countries had similar issues to that of the U.S.A when it regards secondary trauma for our first responders.


Denk-Florea C-B, Gancz B, Gomoiu A, Ingram M, Moreton R, Pollick F (2020) Understanding and supporting law enforcement professionals working with distressing material: Findings from a qualitative study. PLoS ONE 15(11): e0242808.

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  1. Josh, this is great information and you are absolutely correct that Law Enforcement see’s some terrible things, so they have to be mindful in their own self-care which can be aided by having an agency that shares that belief.

  2. Joshua – This is a great post and a subject that not enough people take seriously. I’ve seen so many “atrocities” that I feel almost numb to them. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Thankfully, I’ve avoided SVU and ICAC and so don’t really have to worry about the child porn thing, but those guys have seen some horrible stuff. Psychological help is very important for them.

  3. Great post!
    The issue of desensitization is unfortunately difficult to avoid. Many trauma-prone jobs including medical professions (ER/trauma unit doctors for example) who witness horrific injuries on a daily basis often experience this phenomenon. Also, as life gets more complicated, self-care takes the last priority which leads to more issues as the individual approaches deeper stages of burn out.

  4. Hi Josh, I can’t imagine the types of situations Law Enforcement personnel are exposed to on a daily basis. Thank you for talking on this topic. I think there should be a course on self-care as well as plentiful resources readily available especially for those horrible situations.

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