Today’s Investigative Special Report – October 24, 2012 “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “Law Enforcement and Divorces - Higher or Lower Than Other Occupations?”

By Lawrence W. Daly
Forensic Expert – Senior Author
For decades those in the law enforcement profession have experienced a higher than usual divorce rate. The demands of the job are compelling and stressful and the spouses have a difficult time always adjusting to the changes a law enforcement officer deals with on a daily basis. The question which needs to be asked and answer is does the law enforcement profession produce higher or lower rates compared to other professions and why?
There has been a multitude of research performed on the divorce rates surrounding the law enforcement profession. Timothy Roufa (2012) who is a writer for About.com states the following:
police officer and motorcycle
police officer and motorcycle (Photo credit: Metropolitan Police)
Amazingly, though, when the data was actually compiled and analyzed, researchers discovered that the opposite is true. Police officers actually have a divorce rate that is lower than the national average and, in fact, are closer to the bottom of the list when it comes to the correlation between occupations and divorce…The national average for divorce across all occupations was 16.96 percent, compared to 14.47 percent for law enforcement careers. Interestingly, the data showed the divorce rate to be 15.01 percent for police and patrol officers, as opposed to just over 12 percent for both detectives and police supervisors.
The studies continue to support Roufa’s study of where law enforcement divorce rate currently is. Researchers state the numbers of studies which have been performed in this area are difficult to find. There are many studies about other professions, but specifically dealing with law enforcement is parsed.
            A Washington Post Staff Writer, Ellen McCarthy (2010) states that Dr. Michael Aamodt, a professor at Radford University and  Shawn P. McCoy a student at Radford University in their research on law enforcement officers committing suicide, “…debunked a myth about higher-than-average suicide rates among police officers and showed that most cops have personality traits similar to those of other Americans.” Aamodt’s and McCoy’s study was an attempt to determine of 449 jo
English: The residence hall (dorm) Muse Hall a...
English: The residence hall (dorm) Muse Hall at Radford University, Virginia, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
bs where law enforcement ranked. His study supported Roufa’s.
The reason Aamondt’s and McCoy’s studies are important takes us to the next aspect of why law enforcement ranks just below the national average for divorces. The life-style is commonly considered as one of the key characteristics as it provides a key inside look into the world of the law enforcement officer and why there are so many divorces in this profession. These characteristics are as follows:
1.      Long working hours
2.      Strange working schedule
3.      Shiftwork
4.      Attending court on days off
5.      Emotionally challenging
6.      Personal changes
7.      Viewing and dealing with violence and death in performing the job
8.      Having trouble sleeping i.e. dealing with night terrors
9.      Troubles communicating their feelings about the negative aspects of the job
10.  Difficulty talking and sharing their emotions and feelings with their spouse
11.  Alcohol and drug abuse and addiction
12.  Sexual addiction i.e. expending time on the Internet trying to replace their negative feelings with sexual images and trying to find “pleasure zones”
13.  Promiscuity, failure to abide by the bond and commitment of the marriage
14.  Mood swings from silence to anger outburst
15.  Stress
16.  Domestic violence
17.  Suicides
18.  Perception by spouse that the job is dangerous
19.  Anxiety over financial issues
20.  Psychological and physiological problems
These twenty characteristics are problematic in any profession. However, they become apparent in the law enforcement profession. The myths about the divorce rate in law enforcement are misunderstood. The problem with these myths is they mislead what the true problems are. There is no argument that law enforcement officers deal with a job which has major mental, emotional, and physical issues which affect their marriage and family.
The lack of stability in the law enforcement profession is the unknown which is associated with the job. Spouses have no way of monitoring their spouses behavior when it comes to working long hours, failure to come home allegedly working a double shift, not being home when he has a day off. The inability to communicate with their spouse’s law enforcement officers creates many problems
Divorce Ring
Divorce Ring (Photo credit: Jewellery Monthly)
 which would not be a conflict with them if they were open and honest.
The old adage that “it comes with the job” has since past its time and there have been great strides in the law enforcement profession to address the very conflicts which lead to divorce. Law enforcement agencies have employee programs which provide couple and individual counseling for those who are finding their marriage to be shaky because of the constant demands of the job.
Spouses need to be open and honest as well as the law enforcement officer can’t read minds and if they perceive there is a problem they need to have a ‘table talk’. This is where the two of them sit down at the kitchen table and discuss in a calm and candid fashion what is happening in their marriage. If both of them agree there is a problem in specific areas of their relationship. If they agree to work on these areas before they get out of hand, the marriage should become a solid foundation.
Both the spouse and law enforcement officer understand that when he selected the profession he is working in, there would be challenges and sometimes problems would arise from time to time. Having strategies to deal with these problems ahead of time will reduce the stress and potential side effects which are created on the job and are brought into the marriage.
The responsibility for a marriage is to work is based on trust and love and if one of the spouses fails to do their part in the relationship it doesn’t matter what profession a person is in, the marriage will not work. Honesty should be the best policy. Dedication to make the marriage work has to be the number one goal when it comes to positive and successful relationship.
In any profession there will be problems in any relationship if boundaries, guidelines, rules, equality, ideas, beliefs, and so many other paradigms in which a marriage can be successful aren’t detailed, discussed, and commitment to, the marriage may fail.
The divorce rate and the reasons why law enforcement officers fail in their marriage are known because of the mental health community has expended the necessary research and studies to come along-side them and walk with them through the conflicts which arise. It takes two to make a marriage successful there is no other way to state the obvious.

Lawrence W. Daly
Kent, WA

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