Whatever Gets you Through the Night: Officer Coping Strategies after the High-Profile Line of Duty Deaths in Dallas and Baton Rouge

  • Stacey Clifton
  • Jose Torres
  • James Hawdon


The policing profession has recently experienced events that affected officers across the nation. Several high-profile cases involving police and members of minority communities intensified the tensions among these groups. Amid public criticisms of policing, law enforcement officers have become targets of attacks. Multiple cases of officer ambushes and assassinations have further troubled the already stressful occupational position of law enforcement. This study investigates what coping strategies officers used after the deadly attacks on police in Dallas, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana that occurred in July, 2016. We also investigate how the coping strategies used affects job motivation among officers. Our findings suggest officers turned to three coping strategies: support networks, stoic self-help, and self-medication. These coping strategies were found to be ineffective mechanisms for protecting officer job motivation; however, some strategies adversely affected motivation more than others. Understanding how officers are coping and why effective strategies are not being employed adequately is imperative for both the safety of officers and the public.


Work-related stress in policing Coping strategies Post-Ferguson policing Police officer work motivation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Institutional Review Board of Louisiana State University and the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.


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Copyright information

© Southern Criminal Justice Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Louisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  3. 3.Center for Peace Studies and Violence PreventionVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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