Psychological Issues Experienced By Law Enforcement Officers
The law enforcement faces several challenges in the workplace, some of which lead to the emotional trauma that affects their day to day lives. The police officers need to be given the moral support that will enable them to work better in their respective workstations. Some of the challenges include witnessing a colleague die in the most inhumane way, losing a loves one and several family problems. Taking the services of psychologists will be essential to ensure that the individual is stable enough to carry out his activities (Kitaeff, 2011). The other roles that a psychologist may play in law enforcement include aiding in the investigation using their psychological skills; they may also help in evaluation and training. This paper addresses the role played by the psychologists in law enforcement.
The role that the psychologists play in law enforcement
The police psychologist will play several roles in the investigation of high profile crimes such as the one that is being dealt with in the current case. According to Youngs & Zeyrek-Rios (2014) notes that there are three broad contributions which a psychologist can contribute to criminal investigations such as the one that is being handled. They include the provision of the investigative inferences, being actively involved in the investigation process, and the assessment of the information that has been collected during the process of investigation.
The investigative bodies can use psychology in the provision of several decision-making tools that will facilitate the process of the inquiry and help the people who are taking part in the investigation to make good decisions that will assist in the investigation process. It is important to note that the decisions that the investigative officers take during the investigation process affect the quality of the information collected and the quality of the case formed in the process.
Psychology may also be used in the evaluation of the accuracy of the information gathered in the investigation process. Psychology may be used to answer any questions that may arise during the process of criminal investigation (Youngs & Zeyrek-Rios, 2014). Psychology is essential because it improves work engagement among the officers that are taking part in the investigation. It enables them to have a positive, fulfilling, and a motivational state of work that is advantageous in the working environment.
The psychologists may take part in the investigation inferences by deciding on the individuals who are keen enough to take the paper in the investigation process. A psychologist may rule out an investigative officer out of a case because he or she is not mentally stable enough to take up the role of the investigation (Kurke & Scrivner, 2013). A psychologist may assess an individual and determine the attachment that he or she has with regards to the case at hand. The investigators who tend to take the matters too personal may not be considered in the current situation because their desire to get the culprits may make them pick on the wrong people as suspects to the crime that has been committed.
The psychologists not only study the victims but they also study the offenders. They may also be called upon to study the expert witnesses, the jurors, judges, parole officers, and the correctional officers (Ainsworth, 2012). They are therefore expected to take part in the investigation at all the stages. The police psychologists are also known as behavioral scientists. The law enforcement agencies will, therefore, be assessed before they set out to investigate to ensure that they carry out their activities in the best way possible. The current case investigates the murder of the mayor, a high profile individual in the society. The case is therefore likely to attract the attention of many people in the community. He was found with a gunshot wound on the head, and it is believed that it was the cause for his death. The police, therefore, have to find information on whose gun was used in the shooting, they have to find the person who funded the murder, and the accomplices that made it possible for the murder to occur.
The psychologist will, first of all, provide therapy to the persons found or witnessed the crime such as the family members or the police officers who had been affected by the incident. There are cases where the crime scene is horrifying to the extent that the police officers are disturbed in the process. Investigative psychology involves the inclusion of various aspects of psychology in criminal and civil investigation (Ainsworth, 2012). In the current case, investigative psychology will be used to aid in getting the irrefutable evidence that will ensure that both the victims and the suspect get justice. The psychology also helps in understanding the crime through the effective detection of crime and to ensure that the court proceedings are being carried out in the best way possible. A psychologist may also contribute to the success of the court case thorough offering training to the law enforcement officers. The psychologist will train the police on the issues that they are supposed to address and the factors that they should consider if they have to identify the suspects at the crime scene as well as finding the suspects in the other areas.
The purpose and use of the psychological autopsy
Psychological autopsy is one of the essential tools in conducting investigation especially in cases that involve suicide. In the current situation, the psychological autopsy will be used to assess whether the mayor committed suicide or us was a homicide. Not all people who die of bullet wounds are murdered. Some of them decide to take their lives. It is therefore essential to use the technique to find the exact perpetrators. The investigators have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the death of the mayor was a homicide as opposed to a suicide case (Kitaeff, 2011). The psychologist will, therefore, conduct their research and ascertain if it was the latter or the former.
The investigators as far as the law enforcement agencies are therefore at peace to get the suspects of the murder after it has been proved that the diseased was hot. Psychological autopsy involves collecting all the information about the deceased by conducting structured interviews of the family members, friends, relatives as well as the all the other people that interacted with the diseased at the time when he was still alive. The psychological autopsy may also take information from the medical files. The report helps to know the kind of life that the deceased lived and could be of help to ascertain if the individual had the cases of mental instability that could lead to him committing suicide. The information may also help in averting instances of future debt (Isometsä, 2001). Psychological autopsy involves understanding the mental state of the deceased. The examination of the mental set of the deceased will give more information on what caused the death of the dead.
There have been questions about the validity and the reliability of the technique as far as the investigation is concerned which is the reason why the technique is not widely used in conducting investigations. The method is however useful when combined with the other investigative methods such as the identification of the witnesses. The statements made by the witnesses may be linked with the information that is contained in the psychological autopsy report to see if they are consistent. There are also questions on the uniformity on how the investigators have been trained to use the technique in the investigation. The information on whether the mayor committed suicide or was shot is relevant because it saves the time that could be used in further investigations as to who killed him. Psychological autopsy contains essential information that explains why people commit suicide which enables law enforcement to work on ways in which they prevent the cases of suicide among the people (Isometsä, 2001).
The psychologists are better placed to reduce the instances of crime among the people and also prevent the cases of murder and suicide by providing proper counseling among the people. Most of the law enforcement agencies are considering employing more psychologists and training the police on psychology so that they can understand how they are supposed to prevent the cases of crime in the society. It is therefore advantageous to use the technique in the investigation.
Steps that are taken to conduct a psychological autopsy
The physician has the role of identifying the cause of death by investigating the mode and the cause of the death. In equivocal death, the physical autopsy fails to reveal the cause of death. The first step is to have a doctor conduct a physical examination on the cause and the circumstances of the death of an individual(Meissner, Hartwig, & Russano, 2010). The physical autopsy in the current case shows that the deceased had a bullet wound on the head. However, more investigation is required to confirm whether the injury killed the patient or there was another factor that caused the death.
The other analysis will involve checking whether the bullet wound id self-inflicted or was inflicted by another person. In other words, it consists of an assessment of whether the death was caused by suicide or there was foul play (Meissner, Hartwig, & Russano, 2010). The next step is collecting the medical history and social information about the deceased to find out if he had a medical problem, whether he had enemies who could kill him; this is done after the report on the ethical consideration has been done. The information is collected by conducting interviews on the co-workers, family, friends, neighbors, relatives, and other acquaintances that will help in getting the information that would help in the psychological autopsy. The report is mainly carried out the mental health professionals.
The primary goals of the psychologists are to determine the mode of death, the reason why the death took place at that particular time, conducting the lethality of the suicide and understanding the psychotherapeutic value to the survivors. The historical account of the events has to be addressed; the informants have to be contacted appropriately to reduce the refusal rate.
The psychological issues that the police officers and their families are likely to experience
The police officers and their families may face stress as a result of traumatic pictures at the crime scene. The police become stress as a result of what he sees at the crime scene (Burton, 2010). The family members are therefore stressed when they see that their parent or friend stressed. The law enforcement, therefore, has to seek the services of the psychologist to ensure that the police are living their healthy lives. Human beings tend to be saddened by the report that shows that a person died in a much painful way. The police are therefore likely to be depressed by the report that outlines the evidence of the happened at the crime scene. The cops are humans too, and they have to be protected from any issues that cause their sadness.
The welfare of the police officers and their families will, therefore, be taken care of by ensuring that a therapy session is prescribed to ensure that they are encouraged even as they live in the society. The therapy will address the problems that the police officer and his or her families have gone through when trying to collect evidence of a particular crime scene. The police are therefore supposed to be encouraged on how they will carry out their activities (Burton, 2010).
In summary, the majority of police work involves situations related to human behavior such as managing hostage situations, witness interrogation, and profiling criminals; in all these cases the field of psychology is a vital input. Over the last years, psychology has been widely integrated into the police form, and other law enforcement agencies, resulting in the emergence of the field now referred to as ‘police psychology.’