Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Urszula Strawinska

Second Advisor

Alexia Georgakopoulos

Third Advisor

Gregory Vecchi

Abstract

Urban police officers are regularly exposed to trauma and duty-related stress. The City of Detroit’s highly publicized bankruptcy proceedings reached finality in December 2014 but led to an additional layer of stress via financial uncertainty to Detroit police officers. The officers already experience high critical incident exposure rates and organizational tension/instability. While certain types of stressors (critical incident, organizational and family/personal) have been extensively researched and are largely anticipated within law enforcement agencies, the bankruptcy resolution, which included wage, pension, and medical insurance losses, may have compounded issues within the department. This research project used a mixed method case study approach to evaluate the impact of bankruptcy, duty related stress and coping methods/resiliency involving members of the Detroit Police Department. The primary focus was the impact of the bankruptcy proceedings with critical incident stress, organizational conflict, and family/personal stress as sub-topics. The findings show that, while the majority of officers are satisfied with and appear to enjoy their job, they also do not believe law enforcement is a long-term, sustainable career choice. Without adequate pay and benefits, many participants expressed the need to find another career path that will include affordable retirement packages or continue to work until beyond a healthy retirement age.

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