Researching Moral Injury in Law Enforcement

EDITORS NOTE: The Law Enforcement Survival Institute was approached by The University of Colorado Colorado Springs School of Public Affairs about promoting a new research project investigating the concept of moral injury within law enforcement.  The findings from this project entitled: Advancing Officer Wellness: A Study of On-Duty Experiences and their Impacts among Law Enforcement Professionals, can be used to raise awareness of officer’s experiences and to develop programming that supports officer wellness. The Law Enforcement Survival Institute wholeheartedly supports this very interesting research and we encourage you to investigate further, join the project, and help us spread the word to others.
Here’s some information to get you started and you can connect with the links below:

Purpose Statement: In light of the stresses of police work, recent years have brought heightened attention to the tolls of the job on individual officers. These can include illness, mental and behavioral health challenges, and even suicide. There is thus a strong push for proactive efforts to advance health, wellness, and resilience among officers. This study seeks to support and advance those efforts.

Background: Policing professionals face traumatic and morally injurious events in the line of duty. the effects of trauma and moral injury can include posttraumatic stress, depression, anxiety, suicidality, substance misuse, spiritual and religious struggle, and more. This study is an important step in bolstering resilience among those working in the policing profession. Findings can be used to raise awareness of officer’s experiences and to develop programming that supports officer wellness…

• This study seeks to look at moral injury and related constructs of well-being among police across the country. Findings will be reported in aggregate only and will not linked back to any officer, department, or agency.
• Please contact the researchers if interested in the results of this study. we enjoy opportunities to host presentations and workshops and to share the findings of our research in order to advance community well-being.
Study Description:
Respondents will be asked to fill out an online survey designed to provide insight into the impact of policing experiences on officer wellness. Constructs of interest include mental health (depression, anxiety  posttraumatic stress), moral injury (injury to one’s conscience stemming from involvement in an event that challenges one’s values), meaning making, religious/spiritual coping, empathy, and orientations towards policing.
In an optional second part to the study, six survey respondents will complete an individual interview focused on their impressions of the Moral Injury Events Scale (MIES), one of the measures included in the survey.  The  purpose of this part of the study is to assess the fit of the “moral injury” construct to police and the appropriateness of the MIES for police populations.
The findings of this study will be used to:
• Increase awareness of the experiences and needs of individual officers
• Inform the development of programs to support officer wellness
• Inform future research related to the effects of moral injury among police
• We are looking at moral injury among police across the country, as opposed to in a particular setting. Findings will be reported in aggregate only and will not linked back to any individual officer, department, or agency.
• The data we collect is for research purposes only and will not be made available to any police department, Sherriff’s office, or law enforcement agency.
• Respondents may participate anonymously in the survey and only have to identify themselves if they want to volunteer for an interview.
Time Required:
• It is expected that the survey will take up to 30 minutes to complete.
• Interviews are expected to last up to 45 minutes.
Ten $25 gift cards will be raffled off to survey respondents, and all interview participants will receive a $50 gift card.
Dissemination of Findings:
• This research may be published in journals and presented at professional conferences that target relevant professionals.
• The researchers will prepare a free brief of the research findings to share with all departments, agencies, and officers that desire a copy.
• The researchers will provide community presentations of study findings if as desired by various police departments and agencies.
CLICK HERE To sign up to participate in this project
Thank you for interest in this work. If you have questions or to discuss the study please feel free to contact the principals in this research project:
Shannon Johnson, Assistant Professor of Social Work
The University of Colorado Colorado Springs School of Public Affairs
CLICK HERE: to email Shannon Johnson, Ph.D, MSW, MPP
Stephanie Gangemi, Clinical Assistant Professor & BSW Program Director The University of Colorado Colorado Springs School of Public Affairs
CLICK HERE: to email Stephanie Gangemi, Ph.D., MSW
Please spread the word and help promote this project in any way you can, thank you!

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CopsAlive is written to prompt discussions within our profession about the issues of law enforcement career survival, health and wellness. We invite you to share your opinions, ask questions and suggest topics for us in the Comment Box that is at the bottom of this article.

At The Law Enforcement Survival Institute (LESI) we train law enforcement officers to cope with stress and manage all the toxic effects and hidden dangers of a career in law enforcement.

Our “Armor Your Self™: How to Survive a Career in Law Enforcement” on-site training program is an eight hour, hands-on, “How to” seminar based upon John Marx’ book of the same name. This seminar helps police officers and other law enforcement professionals armor themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to build Tactical Resilience™ and survive their careers in police work. To learn more CLICK HERE. To learn about and buy the book CLICK HERE.

The Tactical Resilience™ and Ethical Policing Project (TREPP) is our international initiative to promote the health and resiliency of law enforcement professionals by conditioning our people physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, as well as paying attention to strengthening their mindset, level of personal mastery, depth of their social support system sand their financial fitness. It also provides a set of tools and techniques that, replenish their spiritual health and, restores their inner peace and clarity.  TREPP is expandable to meet the needs of your community and your budget and can use training, assessments and consulting to assist you where you need it. We build human resilience, create processes to enhance agency support systems, promote a culture of wellness, and most importantly initiate community lead projects thru our Law enforcement officers as Community Action Leaders (LoCAL) initiative.
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I’m John Marx, Founder of The Law Enforcement Survival Institute and the Editor of Connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn Twitter. and Instagram. was founded to provide information and strategies to help police officers successfully survive their careers and improve their heathy, wellness and effectiveness. We help law enforcement officers and their agencies prepare for the risks that threaten their existence. Thank you for reading!

About Editor

John Marx was a Police Officer for twenty-three years and served as a Hostage Negotiator for nineteen of those years. He worked as a patrol officer, media liaison officer, crime prevention officer and burglary detective. Also during his career he served as administrator of his city's Community Oriented Governance initiative through the police department's Community Policing project. Today John combines his skills to consult with businesses about improving both their security and their customer service programs. John retired from law enforcement in 2002. When one of his friends, also a former police officer, committed suicide at age 38, John was devastated and began researching the problems that stress creates for police officers. He decided he needed to do something to help change those problems and he wanted to give something back to the profession that gave him so much. He started a project that has evolved into Put simply, the mission of CopsAlive is to save the lives of those who save lives! gathers information, strategies and tools to help law enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful careers, relationships and lives.
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