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Table 2 Multi-level evidence of themes reflecting high-stress calls for service for police officers

From: Cumulative, high-stress calls impacting adverse events among law enforcement and the public

Theme Evidence Code Frequencies
N(%)
Officer-
 Tenure “When you’re a rookie, you got a high head, you want to prove yourself, want to be a hero so you do a lot of things just to try to prove yourself. Now everybody’s just like, okay, you’ve been on the job for at least ten years. You just wanna answer the call and go home.”
“It takes a lot of experience, because a rookie just wanna go, go, go, go, go. “Oh, I answered 15 calls last night.” What do that mean? [Laughs] You know? So you just take your time. Just only one call at a time”
30 (3)
 Partner “You don’t want them to show up on your call but you’re with the same people all the time so you know who’s who, pretty much, so before you even get there, you have an assessment of what I’m gonna be doing or whether I need to watch my back or not.” 40 (3)
 Military experience “I come from a military background, as well, so a lot of this applies over, as well. How we react is based on our life experience” 13 (1)
 Gender “Why did you have to go [to the bathroom] all the way back to the station? You were like 15 min away. ‘I’m like, “Ah … Like if you really want to know I’m going to tell you and then you’re going to be sad.”
“My partner for the longest time she was my classmate and the stories she would tell like stalking, hit-up all the time.”
“When I was pregnant, the department didn’t have a policy in place for women to work behind the desk. I had to claim I was “unfit for duty” if I didn’t want to go out on the streets. Even with that, I could only claim to be “unfit for duty” for 6 months before I lost my job, so basically I was forced to answer calls until my second trimester. That was incredibly stressful.”
17 (1)
Civilian-
 Resistance “Gonna be resistance, where you’re going to have to take action as far as physical action against a person or protect yourself or your partner from something physical happening when you can see it coming” 17 (2)
 Weapon “Any gun type of call. Anything with the potential for weapons or unknowns”
“Why are you arresting him? It’s just a small gun.” And you’re looking at him like, “Really?” I mean that’s an actual quote, “It’s just a small gun why are you taking him to jail?”
23 (2)
 Mental health “Mental health, – I mean, sometimes it all pans out, but when you’re going there you’re like – ‘cause if you get into a fight, then everybody pulls their cameras out on their phones and it’s like “Well look, we’re trying to get him under arrest to take him to get some help” you know, but sometimes it works swimmingly and sometimes it doesn’t.” 45 (3)
Supervisor-
 Micromanagement “You have to second guess everything because the management here, the internal affairs, the management in general; they don’t care about you, and they will make an example out of you, and they’ll hammer you. So you have to second guess everything because of upstairs.”
“We have an official 40 min rule. So you have to be on a call 40 min or less. If you’re over 40 min, the sergeant call you and say “Why you on this call over 40 min?”. So you have to explain why you need a breather. Or you don’t explain and go to the next call stressed.”
“Just sits there and watches GPS, watching what everybody’s doing, where everybody is, and just micromanaging the hell out of you”
65 (7)
Environmental-
 Weather “The weather kind of dictates stress, too. If it’s cold out, you’re gonna ride clear for a little while. If it’s hot, you probably won’t get to clear but a few seconds, maybe a minute or two and you go into another call.”
“During the wintertime is we call our downtime every year ‘cause it’s cold. People aren’t out. Your call load goes down. So yeah, you have a lot of low time where you can actually get a 50, but when it gets warm and summer hits, especially, you’re lucky if you can go take a pee break.”
10 (1)
 Time of day/year “Like just being able to see what’s going on better reduces your stress already, because you can see. In the dark you can’t. Like you’re walking up to a house, but like you literally cannot see if someone’s like hiding on the porch pointing a gun at you.”
“2:00 to 3:00 A, roughly, ‘cause all the drunks get out at 2:00, so probably about 3:00 is when it dies down, and then after that, there’s usually a lull, unless we’re still playing catch up.”:“Summertime, we’ll be copping all night long. Days will be catching up our calls.”
“Friday night, Saturday night, weekends, holidays, the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve. Sports. Any time the Cowboys are playing. Any time they lose. Domestics go up every time the Cowboys lose. Calls go up in general every time the Cowboys play, but more calls come when they lose.”
34 (1)
Situational-
 Audience “My focus is taken away from my job [when] having an audience. It would take away from my natural inclinations, how I would actually normally handle the call or handle the job because I’m thinking about who’s recording me, what I’m doing.”
“I’ve seen them when there’s 20–30 people there and it’s not stressful to me. But then if you go to a family disturbance call everybody is calm except for one jackass and it’s like that makes everything stressful, because then you suspect this one person getting excited it’s going to excite the other 30 who are calm as we walk down. He’s upset at least but not crazy, crazy like this one guy. So that’s what’s stressful to me.”
“And there’s a lot of people, and they’re all trying to tell you, “Hey, what are you doing?” And they’re all screaming, and this, and that, and that usually gets a little higher stress for me”
24 (3)
 Call-types “Rape, killings, stabbing, children abuse, women slapped,”
“For me, I would probably have to say good domestic violence. When I say good, I mean really serious domestic violence calls where, like you said, you don’t know what you’re walking into because everybody’s so angry and tense and you’re waiting for the violence to turn on you, from the victim too. Sometimes that can happen too. Sometimes you go to arrest the suspect, well, the woman’s only means of income sometimes is getting ready to walk out the door. Well, she panics and then she turns on you. I’ve had that happen and that’s very stressful”
“So my most stressful call was when a eight-year-old hung himself. I didn’t even know that eight-year-olds had that in their mind to do that kinda stuff.”
“The highest-stress calls are the assist, because you know something’s going down then if somebody is asking for cover. Especially somebody that doesn’t ask for cover much. If they get on there and they yell that they never cover, Code Three, that is, that’s the worst right there.”
31 (3)
 Complexity of situations “Everyone wants to police the police, nowadays, so when you’ve got all of these elements that are happening at once, I think that’s what makes things kind of uneasy.”
“It’s usually the totalitaria of the call, so it’s not any one specific call. It’s what elements, certain elements,”
21 (2)
 Anticipation “And then your partner says he has a bad feeling about this. I had the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Keep your Spidey senses to yourself, man.”
“I’m gonna be the first one getting [to this call], so that’s a really high-stress thought process you’re going through as you’re going up to these calls or getting ready to go to that type of call, getting out of the car, getting a shield. We were the first ones going up. We were flanking the shield.”
“I preach a lot on doing visualization exercises. So before the event even happens you’ve already seen it in your mind. So that when you actually get to it your mind is just like, Okay we’ve been here and we’ve handled this and this is what we’re going to do.”
42 (4)