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Profiles of US Law Enforcement Officers Physical Psychological and Behavioral Health: Results From a Nationally Representative Survey of Officers

NCJ Number
Police Quarterly Volume: 24 Issue: 3 Dated: February 2021 Pages: 357-381
Date Published
February 2021
25 pages

Since law enforcement officers’ health and wellness is important at the individual and community levels in terms of maintaining a fit workforce to uphold the mission of public safety, the current study was designed to assess officer wellness across the U.S.


From a nationally representative random sample of 1,135 local and state agencies, a random, probability-based sample of officers was selected, oversampling for female officers. Latent class analyses were conducted to assess wellness profiles based on a set of eleven physical, psychological, and behavioral health indicators for 2,232 officers. Personal and professional characteristics were included as auxiliary variables in models of the resulting classes. Results from this sample indicated that over two-thirds of officers fit a healthy profile, whereas one in four officers presents with moderate health concerns and nearly 6% are classified in a profile of broad health concerns. In this sample, sexual assault in childhood, greater exposure to critical incidents, working a current rotation schedule, and being female were characteristics associated with broad health concerns. Emotional and/or physical assault in childhood, greater exposure to critical incidents, and being female were characteristics associated with moderate health concerns, whereas older age and being Hispanic were protective factors. In sum, full-time sworn law enforcement officers across the U.S. are reasonably healthy but their exposures to stressful situations put them at increased risk particularly in terms of post-traumatic stress, risky drinking, and suicidality. These results are important for agency administrators and policymakers to consider in terms of wellness programs, prevention efforts and budget allocations. (Publisher Abstract)

Date Published: February 1, 2021