Police officers' knowledge and attitudes toward people experiencing emotional difficulty: preeducational and posteducational seminar.
The purpose of this research was to examine whether educational experiences significantly improve knowledge and attitudes of police officers and influence their behavior toward people experiencing emotional difficulty. The sample consisted of 60 Utah police officers, 27 from the West Jordan Police Department, and 33 from the Murray Police Department. The West Jordan Police Department acted as the experimental group and the Murray Police Department as the control group of the study. The experimental instruments consisted of: (1) the semantic differential, which was used to measure police officers' attitudes toward hypothetical people experiencing emotional difficulty; (2) ten multiple-choice questions developed by the investigator based on seminar content measuring knowledge about working with emotionally disturbed people; and (3) a question requesting the officer to describe how he/she would respond to the four hypothetical situations developed for this investigation. Responses to the hypothetical situations were considered to be a non-validated indicator of police officers' behavior. Following a pilot study to validate the knowledge measure (10 multiple choice questions), pretests was administered to both the experimental and control groups by the investigator. The experimental group then participated in four two-hour educational seminars prepared and presented by the investigator and the crisis coordinator of Copper Mountain Mental Health Center in Salt Lake County. The educational seminar focused on recognition of emotional difficulty, crisis intervention, and appropriate use of community resources. Following these seminars, the experimental instruments were again administered to the experimental and control groups. Six months after completion of the posttest, a follow-up questionnaire evaluating the usefulness of the seminar to the officers and measuring specific behavioral changes that may have occurred since the seminar, was distributed by the investigator to officers in the experimental group. Sixteen of the 27 officers responded to this follow-up questionnaire. Parametric t-tests for independent and paired data were used to distinguish differences within each group between pretest and posttest, and between groups on posttest. The results of the study demonstrated a significant increase in police officers' knowledge about working with people experiencing emotional difficulty following the eight-hour educational seminar, compared with officers who did not receive the seminar. Police officers' attitudes toward people experiencing emotional difficulties did not become significantly more favorable following the educational seminar compared with officers who did not participate in the seminar. It was unclear whether or not the educational experience and increase in knowledge influenced police officers' behavior. No significant increase in effective interventions was demonstrated in the experimental group; however, posttest interventions were significantly different from the control group because the control group significantly decreased in describing effective interventions from pretest to posttest. Subjective data collected six months after the seminars suggest that positive behavioral change may also have occurred within the experimental group. All officers reported that the seminar was a valuable experience. Recommendations for further study and implication for psychosocial Nursing; and the delivery of community mental health services are discussed.
University of Utah;
Police; Attituds; Utah; Murray;
Crisis Intervention; Mental Disorders;
University of Utah;
Relation-Is Version Of
Digital reproduction of “Police officers' knowledge and attitudes toward people experiencing emotional difficulty: preeducational and posteducational seminar.”Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library. Print version of “Police officers' knowledge and attitudes toward people experiencing emotional difficulty: preeducational and posteducational seminar.” available at J. Willard Marriott Library Special Collection. HV 15.5 1981 G63.