In the wake of a series of videos depicting Metro Vancouver police being subjected to verbal abuse, a psychologist is warning of the effects on officers.
Officers are often on the receiving end of abuse, said Dr. Joti Samra, and can be at risk of running themselves into the ground if they don’t address the personal fallout.
“Being exposed to kind of unpredictable, unnecessary abusive behaviour can take a real toll on feelings of satisfaction, engagement, desire, moral, self-confidence – all of those pieces that we all need to feel good about ourselves and in the work that we do,” Samra said.
Many law-enforcement officials face burnout after years of receiving verbal and physical attacks on a regular basis, she said.
Officers have to have a tone that is assertive and strong when dealing with a person who is confrontational, Samra said, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t personally impacted by incidences of conflict.
“But doing that in a way that is still demonstrating kind of respect and appropriate behaviour towards someone even if they are engaging in inappropriate behaviour. Certainly when there is any kind of threat to physical safety there needs to be policy and procedures in place that allow police to be able to engage in behaviours that are self-protective.”
An internal report from the Vancouver Police union last year found that as many as one in three officers is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while on the job.
The results found a high number of officers suffering from anxiety, depression, exhaustion and cynicism.
Last week, a video surfaced of Metro Vancouver Transit Police being verbally abused by the occupants of a car that had been pulled over for speeding, with one man telling the officers he makes as much in three months as they do in a year.
Later that week, a second video emerged of a Vancouver police officer being called a “fat piece of s***,” among other things, while questioning a driver about a hit and run.
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