The rigorous demands of that work led psychologist and former police officer Jack Digliani to focus his career on helping law enforcers.
The duty to protect others - and possibly risk death in the process - is an "unavoidable stressor" for police, Digliani
"Most police officers are quite compassionate," he
"They have to be to do this work."
has helped officers deal with the challenges of their job and the effects of traumatic events for more than 20 years.
There have been significant changes to the field of police psychology since the 1980s, he
The American Psychological Association
now has a "Psychologists in Public Service" division that includes police and public safety.
The perception in police stations has changed from the days when an officer seeking a "shrink's" help would be labeled a member of the "rubber gun squad" (unfit to carry firearms), he
In 1990, Digliani
began a program with Fort Collins Police Services to provide counseling to all officers early in their training.
book, "Reflections of a Police Psychologist" was released earlier this year and explains a variety of challenges police may encounter.
"I spent several years investigating primarily child sex crimes, and to say I needed a little help coming out of that job is an understatement," Jon Holsten, who worked with Digliani
at FCPS, said in an e-mail.
was an amazing resource during some really difficult times, so to see him share his
wisdom in this way is pretty neat."
said officers tend to deal "very well" with traumatic events, but between 4 percent and 5 percent can be "overcome by trauma" and leave policing altogether.
"I've had four officers in 20 years retire because of psychological issues," he
said prepared "pocket responses" such as, "That was an unusual incident" or "Got to go, take care," can be used to prevent further stress.
Coping with death, suicide and family issues also are covered in Digliani's book.
Holsten said Digliani
was "really influential in setting up peer-support teams," which give officers a place to connect with their colleagues and deal with issues.
Digliani began policing in 1976 as a Laramie County sheriff's deputy in Wyoming.
He later focused on psychology, working in a hospital's psychiatric unit before returning to police work in Fort Collins and ultimately becoming staff psychologist.
He earned his doctorate in education in 1989 from the University of Northern Colorado and his Ph.D. in 1994 from Colorado State University.
He continues to serve as a psychologist on contract with Loveland Police Department and Larimer County Sheriff's Office.
book is written for police officers or anyone curious about the world of policing.
book, "Reflections of a Police Psychologist" is available at the Old Firehouse Bookstore in Fort Collins and the Anthology Bookstore in Loveland as well as online at Xlibris.com.