CAHSS Faculty Articles

Title

Officers in Crisis: New York City Police Officers Who Assisted the Families of Vicims of the World Trace Center Terrorist Attack

Department

Department of Justice and Human Services

Publication Date

1-1-2011

Publication Title

Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations

Volume

11

Issue

1

First Page

40

Last Page

56

Abstract

Following September 11, 2001, considerable research focused on the well-being of disaster and recovery workers at the World Trade Center in New York. Yet police officers who assisted the families of victims have been neglected. These officers worked long shifts escorting families to the site of the attack, reviewing lists of the deceased, distributing death certificates and memorial urns, and collecting materials for DNA sampling. Intense work with traumatized individuals can result in secondary traumatization. Six months after the attack, 23% of a convenience sample of these officers (N = 74) had possible posttraumatic stress disorder, as measured by the Posttraumatic Symptom Checklist (Weathers, Litz, Herman, Huska, & Keane, 1993). Additional exposures to the attacks and being Hispanic were associated with more severe symptoms, while years of experience as a police officer with the NYPD had no effect. Recommendations for preventive preparedness training and early intervention for police officers who assist victims’ families following disasters are presented.

DOI

10.1080/15332586.2011.523310