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Development of Peer Support Programs in Native American and Campus Police Departments

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2001
102 pages
This report provided an overview in the development, implementation, and evaluation of a peer support stress identification and reduction program within Native American and campus police departments in Arizona.
In 1998, the Fraternal Order of Police in Tucson, Arizona, were awarded a grant from the National Institute of Justice to develop effective methods for reducing stress in 2 under-served law enforcement groups, Native American and campus police departments. This report presented information about the development, implementation and evaluation of a peer support stress identification and reduction program in four non-traditional participating law enforcement agencies: White Mountain Apache Tribal Police Department, Tohono O’Odham Nation Police Department, the University of Arizona Police Department, and Pima Community College Department of Safety. The primary purpose of the program was to demonstrate the utility of peer support principles in Native American and campus law enforcement agencies. The overall goals related to decreasing job-related emotional and behavioral symptoms and increasing marital/family satisfaction. For Peer Support Team members, overall goals related to increasing knowledge about and skills in detecting stress-related symptoms and increasing skills in providing effective intervention strategies. Nine major conclusions drawn from evaluation components included: (1) the impact of police work in non-traditional jurisdictions often resulted in a variety of stress symptoms similar to those found in more traditional law enforcement agencies; (2) training materials and techniques used in the Demonstration Project were successful in increasing Peer Support Team member’s awareness, knowledge, and skills; (3) peer support programs can have a beneficial effect on the psychological functioning and stress levels of law enforcement personnel in non-traditional jurisdictions; (4) peer support programs may be especially beneficial for Native American law enforcement officers; (5) peer support programs can be a valuable addition to law enforcement departments with limited mental health resources; (6) critical agency components in a non-traditional setting are administrative stability and commitment; (7) critical peer support components are selection of appropriate personnel, comprehensive training and supervision, and an on-site peer support coordinator; (8) many officers are reluctant to involve their family in department programs or work-related issues of a sensitive nature; and (9) line of duty death is devastating for most officers in any law enforcement agency. In addition, recommendations for establishing and maintaining peer support programs in Native American and campus police departments were identified and contained the following major components: administrative support; officer and family support; Peer Support Team member selection and training; Peer Support Team coordination and supervision; mandated officer evaluation sessions; additional resources; and patience. Appendices A – F

Date Published: April 1, 2001