Traumatic Stress in Crime Investigators

Becoming a Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) takes a lot effort to do but more importantly it can put quite an impact on the physical health, and mental health of a Crime Scene Investigator. In the career of a CSI you are more than likely to be exposed on a continual basis to terrible crimes. This can lead to many symptoms of stress or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). So the question is, does this really occur in CSI’s and how does this affect them?

In the article Traumatic Stress Reactions in Violent Crime Investigators by Deanna Nicole Monteith, a researcher at the College of Arts and Sciences Fresno Campus, says that the symptoms experienced by the officers “can include insomnia, anxiety, depersonalization, detachment, hypervigilance, and fear, as well as multiple physical ailments.

” Many of these symptoms are very likely to effect the way CSI’s think and perform on duty which in return can get themselves or someone else injured. Depersonalization for example is a state in which one’s thoughts and feelings seem unreal or not to belong to oneself, as defined by the Oxford dictionary.

This one symptom can dramatically affect the alertness of an officer causing them to make mistakes they usually don’t make. Or even insomnia for another example, can lead to persistent problems falling and staying asleep which in return could lead to daytime drowsiness. Again something that could affect the decision making of officers or cause them to make a mistake. Especially in the career as a Crime scene investigator, it’s not acceptable to make mistakes when collecting evidence or doing write ups.

Get quality help now
Sweet V
4.9 (984)

“ Ok, let me say I’m extremely satisfy with the result while it was a last minute thing. I really enjoy the effort put in. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

In the same article it said that an average between 13% to 35% of officer are affected by PTSD and never know about it. While this does seem to be a relatively small number, when you put the fact that there around 7,670,702,765 in the world next to that percentage you can see that it can be a vast amount of people affected by this, and that’s not counting the people who aren’t officers.

They have also been known to “reprimand personnel who are afflicted, citing them for poor job performance.” This reason alone shows how these symptoms can affect the daily lives of officers by having their job performance decrease. This is especially hard on those who have no idea they are affected in any way. Having themselves believe they’re just not doing their job well anymore. Going further with the subject of PTSD, in the same article it’s said that “personnel who are suffering from symptoms of PTSD may be afflicted with multiple psychological and physical ailments, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, hypertension, bronchial asthma, peptic ulcers, as well as diseases of the cardiovascular, digestive, musculoskeletal, endocrine, respiratory, and nervous systems.” Seeing how officers can already be affected physically in their daily lives, it can also be seen that they are also affected physically with their health and mental health. It’s also said that they are at an increased risk of getting “infectious” diseases.

This shows how vast amounts of stress could possibly be linked to CSIs resorting to substance abuse and anxiety to contracting bronchial asthma and peptic ulcers which could affect them in the workplace and their homes. In some cases it’s said that the officer can acquire aggressiveness. This could possibly lead to the officer harming himself and others while at work. Or even at home with the officer’s own family.

In the article “Mental Resilience of crime scene investigators,” by Henk Sollie et. al, researchers at The Katholieke Universiteit Leuvenit’s and Politieacademie, said that “stressors involve traumatic situations and events, these include facing physical violence, shocking crime scenes, or victims’ suffering.” Many of which are included in the career as a CSI. This shows that something like viewing shocking crime scenes can cause CSIs to accumulate stress. And seeing as they’re job is made up of viewing crime scenes, this could end up to be a big problem in the career for all personnel.

In some instances it’s said that this could lead to commiting suicide. So while “law enforcement officers as a whole have been found to display a greater number of symptoms of extreme stress than the general population,” as said by Deanna Nicole Monteith, it’s also shown that depending on the job of the officer the effects can be varied. It’s said in the article by Deanna Nicole Monteith, that “investigators of violent human crimes would score higher on measures of PTSD than would uniformed line officers.” for example this is showing that CSIs who investigate mutilated bodies could be more at risk then those working in the lab. While both may encounter different and various amounts of stress it may be more apparent in CSIs who are seeing these graphic scenes more frequently that are being affected by many of these symptoms.

Being a crime scene investigator can be a difficult career. Dr. Charlotte Paden, a Criminal Justice professor at Stanislaus State University, said “an officer must make split time decisions, and stress or any other form of trauma can be dangerous for the officer and others surrounded” (Sollie et al., 2017; Mrevlje, 2015; Mrevlje, 2018, Salinas & Webb, 2018). This again goes back to the subject of officers putting themselves and others at risk. While in many articles it says that officers can find ways to cope with problems like these it’s still shown that something could be affecting them. It could affect some more than other, and depending on the job it could be that some jobs could be easier to cope with. But while it may be less than expected it is apparent that some officers are affected and there are many forms that stress can come in from depression, anxiety, and even substance abuse.

Cite this page

Traumatic Stress in Crime Investigators. (2022, Feb 17). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7