U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Stress and Job Satisfaction in an Urban Sheriff's Department: Contributions of Work and Family History, Community-Oriented Policing and Job Assignment

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2003
177 pages
This study examined the relationship between stress and job satisfaction among corrections officers, patrol officers, and detectives in an urban sheriff’s department.
Job-related stress is costly for employers due to time off work, high turnover, and loss of productivity. Prior research has indicated that job-related stress is especially high among law enforcement and correctional officers. This study sought to add to this research literature by examining how stress and job satisfaction were related to work history, family history, relationship variables, and demographic characteristics. Also under examination was how community oriented policing (COP) contributed to both stress and job satisfaction. Questionnaires were distributed to officers and their spouses. Respondents included 428 patrol officers, 260 corrections officers, and 151 detectives of the Sacramento County Police Department. Levels of job-related stress were measured through self-reported feelings of difficulty, frustration, and concern. Job satisfaction was measured through an examination of structure of the job, policies and resources, compensation, diversity of tasks, supervision, promotions, training, and employee relationships. Results indicate that on average, the officers in this study spent about half of their careers in corrections assignments and about one-third of their careers in patrol assignments. A comparison of corrections officers and patrol officers revealed that, while the two jobs engendered many similarities in terms of stress and satisfaction, differences were noted in promotions and injury claims. Corrections officers reported feeling more satisfied with promotions and had fewer injury claims than patrol officers. Many more differences were found based on the gender of the officer, with female corrections officers reporting more satisfaction with their job than female patrol officers. A comparison of detectives with other officers revealed that detectives experienced more satisfaction with all aspects of their job, which was expected given their greater autonomy, greater task variety, and higher pay. Finally, involvement in COP was highly correlated with job satisfaction among patrol officers, although this varied by the amount of importance placed on COP by the department. Variables that measured family history and relationships had little impact on job-related stress and satisfaction. Generally, the results revealed that officers with more years in the department, sergeants, and female officers were less satisfied and more stressed in many of the areas under examination. The use of support and assistance programs by officers and their spouses is described. Tables, figures, bibliography, appendix

Date Published: June 1, 2003