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Critical Incident Stress and the Perceived Availability of Peer Support for Civilian Criminalistics Personnel
AuthorKeel, Renee A.
AdvisorLeone, Matthew C.
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The vast majority of police-related stress research has focused upon sworn law enforcement officers and the physical, mental and emotional toll the profession exacts. This study examines the level of critical incident stress experienced by criminalistics personnel and the perception of peer support available to the forensic members of government agencies. Focus was particularly paid to potential differences between sworn and civilian respondents when considering variables of level of stress experienced in the field and in organizational settings. Secondary and tertiary prongs of the research look at the availability of peer support as perceived by sworn and civilian respondents as well as overall satisfaction with elements of the profession.Data was collected by sending out en electronic survey to 2,028 criminalistics personnel employed with government agencies in 49 states and 33 countries. 337 useable surveys were returned indicating a 20.57% response rate. Analysis reveals findings of a significant level in five areas; field environment, organizational factors, perception of peer support available, sense of personal safety, and overall satisfaction with promotability.Findings also suggest that the area of study would benefit from additional research of criminalistics personnel and law enforcement agencies in the areas of examination of stress levels experienced by gender, the benefit of diversion and peer support programs and making the programs available to all personnel regardless of sworn status.