Stress Among Rural and Small-Town Police Officers

Yolanda M. Scott, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

This study examines the extent to which rural and small-town police officers stress experiences are similar, in level and function, to that discovered among samples of urban and suburban officers. A growing body of police stress literature suggests that line/supervisory interactions, self-efficacy, and subjective interpretations of the work environment are important determinants of stress, particularly among patrol officers. however, a direct investigation of rural and small-town police stress is absent in the literature. Perhaps assumptions about the unviersality of the nature of the work and police culture contribute to the lack of scientific attention afforded these officers. If regional and concomitant stress differences between officers exist, the practice of absolute homogeneity makes it difficult to develop strategies aimed at reducing identified stressors among rural and small-town law enforcement. Using a sample of rural and small-town officers from Western Pennsylvania, this study investigates possible linkages between stress and officers' subjective experiences with and expectations of administration, immediate supervisors, and the public. The results of this study along with recommendations for social policy will be discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006