International Developments in
mergency Communications, Police Stress
and Crisis Management


Arthur A. Jones, J.D., Dr.jur.
Robin Wiseman, J.D., Dr.h.c.

International Human Rights Law and Policy
c/o Los Angeles Community Policing
email to:

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part two of a three part series, first presented in August 2003. Look for the other installments, part 1 and part 3.

August 12, 2003

Prepared for:

..........Performance Investment Fund (PIF) Advisory Committee,
..........Emergency Communications & Information Technology Project
..........County of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department
..........Leroy D. Baca, Sheriff
..........Dr. Richard Weintraub, Director, Professional Development Bureau

Interim Research Notes


International Developments in
Emergency Communications, Police Stress
and Crisis Management


(part 2 of 3)

Comparative European and Other International Developments

"Case studies essentially are self-contained explorations and,
as such, have limited usefulness in the quest for generalizations.
By and large, such generalizations are achieved only through
comparative studies. This is particularly true when attempting to
establish common denominators on an enormous scale."

---- Professor Vahakn N. Dadrian


Switzerland is emerging as a leader in the development of interdisciplinary training and crisis response performance. Although small in terms of size and of population (pop. 7,250,000), neutral and a non-EU member, Switzerland often takes significant steps forward in policing structure that exert a positive, definite influence on its neighbors, and on Europe in general.

A current example, developed and implemented by the Swiss National Police based on their initial experiences with new international treaties on cross-border surveillance and pursuit, is that of combining one of their top administrative offices ---third from the top in their national police hierarchy --- with their psychological services. The effective "merger" covers recruitment, training, operations and performance measurement.

This move was not made without trepidations. The Senior Director, Pascal Borgeat, noted, "Police need to operate with clear certainties. Instead, psychology concerns itself with complex nuances and probabilities."

Moreover, the merger brought together two rather different worlds: Psychologists tend to inhabit a microcosm, in which individual problems frequently outweigh the overall picture, while police officers are confronted daily with the entire range of complex human behavior.

Nevertheless, significant results have been achieved in the field of emergency response and crisis management. The newly-added psychological content of training courses is not limited to the usual deep-breathing, reflection and relaxation techniques, but now features extensive education in emotional self-control, conflict resolution strategies, and use of force. New techniques for maintaining flexibility under stress have been introduced, together with courses in preparation for hostage situations, terrorist attacks, and international catastrophic response.

The National Police Department has also introduced a policy of holding extensive interagency debriefings after disaster scenarios and cross-border incidents. The younger officers and other first responders favor the interagency and international approach used in debriefings, and participants 25 through 35 years old are over three times more likely to freely voice their opinions, feelings and questions than their older colleagues.

Addressing the war on terrorism, the Swiss are convinced that strong police morale and commitment will be decisive to winning that struggle. As a result, they are conducting studies on morale drops, their causes and cures. They divide the problem into the external and the internal:


--- Media criticism;
--- Attacks by immigrants, many of them illegals;
--- Verbal attacks by special interest organizations;
--- Scapegoating by politicians.


--- Burnout;
--- Ethical lapses by colleagues or partners;
--- Case overload;
--- Frustration-related stress;
--- Fatigue;
--- Off-duty or secondary employment ("moonlighting").

Noting a close correlation between those factors and low morale, the Swiss have instituted a dialogue with police psychologists in surrounding countries (Germany, France, Italy and Austria) to develop new strategies for combating them.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Look for other installments, part 1 and part 3:

I. Organizational Stress and Police Performance: The Beck Studies and their Progeny

III. Crisis Management, Stress, and Impact on Police Performance: Psychological Implications

Respectfully submitted,

Arthur A. Jones, J.D., Dr.jur. Robin Wiseman, J.D., Dr.h.c. 


--- Arthur A. Jones and Robin Wiseman are international human rights lawyers with legal educations in the United States and Europe. They are consultants and authors on international policing, social policy and human rights, and regular contributors to the forum here at LA Community Policing.

For more of their work, please see the
Think Tank.

For additional information or a complete list of references, contact:

Dr. Arthur Jones