Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Carrie Oser

Abstract

Stressors stemming from tactical policing such as social isolation and increased work responsibilities often spill over into the home and affect personal relationships. Using attachment theory as the guiding framework, this mixed methods study aimed to obtain a better understanding of the factors involved in maintaining long-term relationships between tactical officers and their romantic partners. Phase I consisted of surveys administered to tactical officers in Kentucky and measured romantic partner attachment, organizational and operational police stressors. Research questions examined how operational and organizational stress correlated with attachment while controlling for demographics. Analysis indicated that holding a rank above an officer has a significant relationship to both operational and organizational stress. Influenced by the findings from phase I, phase II consisted of 30 qualitative interviews with both tactical officers and their romantic partners. Using elements of attachment theory, symbolic interactionism, and components comprising the spirit of grounded theory, four primary themes with supporting subthemes were discovered: (1) communication, a key component of successful relationships; (2) isolation, particularly from socializing with those outside policing or tactical policing; (3) job related stress, where participants indicated more stress with tactical duties; and (4) tactical team as family and trust where participants indicated that personal support among team members was essential to building the mutual trust needed for the dangers of tactical policing. These themes indicated important findings including better communication between couples who had a romantic partner working in a criminal justice related field and discovery of stressors unique to tactical policing including increased job-related stress pertaining to the higher physical, moral and intellectual standards needed for tactical policing. Participant-based advice and recommendations for more tailored support services for tactical officers and their families were also developed from the findings of phase II and included a need for family notification systems and creation of family-oriented trainings. Relationships between the phases highlighted unique aspects of police subculture within tactical policing and its effects on the personal and occupational lives of tactical officers.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

http://dx.doi.org/10.13023/ETD.2016.223