The life of a rookie police officer can be a tough one, says the Chicago Tribune. After training for months, the officers are sent out to face stresses, dangers, and a world unlike anything they’ve known before. If they’re second-, third- or fourth-generation officers, they could have even more expectations to live up to. Dennis Rosenbaum, a criminology professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, wants to find out what exactly happens over the course of a career that makes an officer good at the job. He believes a variety of factors can be influences, from training to home life to bosses. He is hoping that a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Justice will help in figuring out how much each of those factors influence good policing, and how they can be emulated.
For three years, researchers will study police departments across the country, including Chicago, other major cities such as Boston and Los Angeles, and some suburban towns. It will take Rosenbaum and his researchers deep into the realm of police work through interviews, surveys and observations. Rosenbaum wants to find out from the men and women on the front lines what it’s like to be a cop and what can be done to make their jobs better. In Chicago, Rosenbaum plans to look initially at rookie officers, focusing on everything from training to their backgrounds and lives in their assigned districts. In Los Angeles, he’ll focus first on supervisors. Over time, he’ll share his findings with the police departments that work with him, so they can get a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. “This is about officer safety and health and emotional well-being and work conditions,” he said. The goal is to “understand for the first time what are the stresses they go through, what are the factors they deal with on the street and how we can improve those situations.”