International studyCorona Crisis: Requirements for Everyday Police Work

11 May 2020

International study with so far over 2,000 participants in five countries

The exceptional situation posed by the corona pandemic puts special demands on the work and crisis management of the police force. How police officers working in the field deal with demands and stress and what coping mechanisms they use is the subject of a study initiated by PD Dr Marie Ottilie Frenkel, a stress researcher at Heidelberg University. To explore this topic, online surveys have been conducted in various regions of Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Spain and Switzerland since March. To date more than 2,000 officers have responded, including over 520 from the area covered by the police headquarters in Mannheim. There are three surveys in total, which will continue until June. According to Dr Frenkel, the initial results could be available as soon as the end of June.

The online surveys record information about the stress factors in the respondents’ professional and personal lives as well as supporting measures in police work. They are supplemented by detailed reports of individual experiences. “We expect the analysis to be quite revealing,” emphasises Dr Frenkel. “In addition to learning how police crisis management can be further improved, we also hope to gain insights into possible training scenarios for use in police instruction,” says the Heidelberg researcher.

The study entitled “SHOT-COVID19” is part of the international SHOTPROS project being funded under the auspices of Horizon 2020, the research and innovation programme of the European Union. In the SHOTPROS project, a number of partners are working on developing an innovative training curriculum that will improve decision-making and action processes of police officers under stress and in high-risk operational situations. This also includes a virtual reality solution designed to make training for critical deployment scenarios more efficient. “From our surveys regarding these acute and real stress situations, we also hope to gain critical insights that will benefit the overall project,” adds Dr Frenkel.