SAVANNAH, GA (Wednesday, August 9, 2017) – The Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department was one of three law enforcement agencies in Georgia to participate in a University of Georgia research study on secondary trauma in the workplace.
Last week, the research team met with multiple officers, supervisors, dispatchers and members of the community to discuss their experiences with trauma.
Researcher Dr. Brian N. Williams, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, said the purpose of the study is to better understand trauma and its secondary effects on law enforcement.
Williams said he and his team have found that trauma works “like a contagion” and can spread from the officers who experienced it through the ranks as they share that experience with colleagues and supervisors. The goal is to help police departments better understand work-related trauma so they can better support employees who experience it.
“Trauma is something that’s difficult to talk about,” Williams said. “It’s a topic that is extremely serious and not really understood as much.”
LaGrange Police Department and Athens-Clarke County Police Department also participated in the study. Williams said the team sought out Georgia law enforcement agencies that have demonstrated “strong leadership.”
“We were extremely pleased to participate in the study with the University of Georgia,” said Chief Joseph H. Lumpkin Sr. “We hope the results will help to better improve the overall health of law enforcement professionals. Officers frequently have experiences that, if not properly addressed, have the potential to reduce their productivity, damage their health and shorten their careers.”
The study is still in the primary pilot stage. The research team also includes Dr. Anthony Silard, of California State University – San Bernardino, and Lindsay Brown, a doctoral candidate at University of Georgia. They have secured additional interviews with law enforcement agencies in Kansas and California. They plan to release a preliminary report around Spring 2018.