It also shows that key causes of the drug use that does exist include job-related stress, unique opportunity, and features of police culture. The effects of such drug use have negative impacts not just on the using officer, but also on colleagues and family.
Durkheim's paradigm of functionalism is useful in analyzing this phenomenon. It helps explain how a poorly-functioning system can lead to increased police drug use, and a well-functioning system can reduce police drug use.
Brunet (2003) surveyed a wealth of drug literature published from 1984 to 2002. Most found that low numbers of officers used illegal drugs. Several studies showed that anywhere from .31% to 20% of tested police officers in departments across the US and Australia used drugs. By comparison, a U.S. Department of Justice survey (2008) found that, while 8.2 % of full-time workers across America are regular drug users, those in protective service occupations, such as police were least likely to be users, with a rate of 3.4%. While the number of officers who use drugs may actually be quite small, the cases the public finds out about often cause terrific backlash.
Effects of such use are felt by the individual officer, the police department as a whole, and the officer's family. The consequences impact public safety, public trust, and the ability of police to assist in the prosecution of criminals. Other consequences include the potential for greater corruption, reduced job productivity, and more civil liability for departments. Police officers who use drugs also place their families at greater risk for dysfunction and put their jobs at risk.
Durkheim's paradigm of functionalism is beneficial in understanding drug use amongst police. It also provides insights into why some who are sworn to uphold the law break it in the very worst ways. Durkheim focused on the interactions and interdependence of society. He proposed that a smoothly functioning society had roles for individuals and norms to guide behaviors. When there is equilibrium in the system, individual needs are met and society works. When there is disequilibrium, society and individuals in society can suffer greatly. It is just this situation with drug use amongst police.
Causes of Police Officer Drug Use
As with the rest of the population, the causes of drug use amongst police officers are wide and varied. Stress, opportunity, and police culture are cited in many studies as central causes of drug abuse by police.
According to Gorta (2008), police in Australia indicated that stress in their work and personal lives sometimes led to drug use. Many officers cited stressful situations such as killing someone in the line of duty or chasing someone in a high-speed pursuit as causing inordinate amounts of stress (Brunet, 2003). Many note that organizational rules, regulations, and procedures are stressors. Shift work and working irregular hours, as well as