Life after policing

By Katrina Martin (CLET Director)
LLB, MSocSc(Crim), MBA, DBA (Current)

Literature Review - Life after policing – common employability issues for post-service Australian Police Officers?

The purpose of the research is to ascertain whether there are any employability issues for Australian Police Officers after they exit the police service or force.

Introduction to research

Statistically, the attrition rates for police is high and the most common question apparent in the literature is why are they leaving with little to no focus on what are serving members doing, in terms of employment, post separation from the police organisation. It is anticipated that this is a key factor in the reasons for leaving, or even in the reasons for not leaving. Chan and Doran (2009) report that approximately 50 per cent of mid-career police officers are seriously considering leaving the police service or force, whilst Myers (2006) identifies that Australia’s police forces are affected only by the same recruitment and retention issues which are affecting all workplaces.

To date, preliminary literature enquiries have revealed no relevant studies in the area of police officer employability after service, and limited literature in the area of the employability of officers or serving members who leave the armed services, such as the Australian Defence Force. There is some evidence in the Australian police journals from Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria (2010) that the primary field of employment for police officers post-service is in the security industry or other similar industries that mirror policing practices.

The purpose of the research is to gather some information about what employment options police officers have post service in order to establish business practices specifically designed to assist police officers, who are contemplating leaving the service or force, develop solid employment plans.

For the purposes of this research project, resignation is the focus as the other forms of separation have an element of non-voluntary separation as a result of medical condition or injury/death, or mandatory retirement age. Neither the research project nor the literature review has any focus on separation from police organisations as a result of misconduct, corruption or other alleged criminal or inappropriate behaviour. It is believed that this is far outside the scope of the objectives of this project.

When examining the literature in respect of this subject matter it becomes clear that there are four types of separation from Australian Police organisations. This includes retirement, resignation, medical discharge and death. What is surprising is the amount of reference, on an ongoing basis, in relation to medical discharge, retirement and death, but limited, if any, reference to resignation (QPU, 2009-2010; WAPU, 2009-2010; NSWPA, 2009-1010; VICPA, 2009-2010).

Medical discharge

There is an extensive amount of literature on police who are involuntarily and voluntarily discharged on medical grounds. The type of medical conditions include psychological or physical or both and range from permanent impairment conditions to single point injury or impairment (Pangaro, 2010; NSWPA, 2010; Featherstone, 2009; Wiley, 2009). Pangaro (2010) describes that police work is physically and psychologically demanding and minimal impairment can result in discharge, either voluntary or otherwise. Given that medical discharge is not the primary focus of the research, it may be considered that literature in this area is irrelevant, but reading the material has identified that this is not the case. One of the most important elements of this research is to ensure that the participants are not left vulnerable by the interview content and technique. As such, it is important to review literature on the psychological and physical issues associated with policing to ensure that the interview is guided in such a manner to avoid these issues wherever possible and that coping techniques are utilised if these issues are broached either by course of the interview or by the participant themself (PPTSG, 2010). From the reading, it is possible that the participants may have suffered psychological injury, but not pursued medical discharge, instead choosing to resign of their own volition (Featherstone, 2009). The literature indicates that serving and ex-members are vulnerable at all times to suffering psychological impairment even if they have had no physical injury resulting from service (Pangaro, 2010). The literature is extensive, but will not be covered in detail here as it is not the focus of the research, however it will remain an important issue to ‘avoid’ and/or ‘manage’ as part of the research process.

Constant policing

Another interesting perspective raised in the reading of the literature is the assertion that policing is a 24/7 occupation (Walsh, 2009). This means that police officers are required to assume the role at all times, even if off duty. Walsh (2009) explains that the Victoria Police Manual, at paragraph 5.1, states that ‘a sworn employee is always liable for duty whether in uniform or plain clothes...’ and this has been supported by the courts who supported the claim of an officer for psychological injury following a domestic altercation that occurred in her home whilst she was off duty (Walsh, 2009). Walsh explains that the court decision means that an individual is always a police officer, whether on duty or not, if they choose to intervene. This is not unique to policing, as fire officers have been known to attend to fires whilst off duty on the basis that, unlike civilians, they know what to do in a fire emergency (Lewis & Siegmeier, 2009). Similarly, the same concept applies to paramedics and other first aid equipped practitioners (Rolfe, 2010; Jenkin, 2010). It is interesting to consider that the skill set individuals develop whilst serving police officers still exists post-separation yet the expectation for them to intervene in situations is gone. This creates an interesting dynamic for officers leaving the occupation in that it is a new experience to be working set hours in alternative employment and no longer being more than a civilian. It is worth considering that this has a large impact on the satisfaction of ex-police in their new employment and should be addressed as part of the interview to establish a common thread associated with this possibility. It also impacts upon the type of employment that they may seek after separation from the police, and whether they expect to carry the same level of perceived importance within society. It begs the question of whether they may experience constant dissatisfaction with alternative employment as a result of the lack of importance they feel and whether this will contribute to a desire to return to policing. Or perhaps, it just contributes to the type of employment that is sought post-service. It is believed that this should be pursued as part of the research, and is addressed from an alternative perspective below.

Police culture

This leads to discussion about the police culture and how it impacts on decisions to leave the organisation, the type of employment that is accessible and sought, after service, and the coping mechanisms needed for ex-police in new employment. The literature indicates that the police culture is a strong and influential environment that serves the dual purpose of supporting and isolating its members (Shanahan, 2000; Prenzler, 1997). Based on the reading material, it appears that one of the challenges that should be addressed in the research is to measure each participant’s understanding of the police culture, if any, and awareness of how inclusion in that culture affects their experiences both in and out of policing (Bolen, 1990). The readings indicate that the police culture is so inclusive that ex-police can experience great levels of abandonment and loneliness in the absence of the culture; however can also feel constricted when in the culture and seek exit options (Bolen, 1990; Prenzler, 1997; Beck & Wilson, 1995). It appears to be a somewhat confusing experience for police and will be an interesting aspect of the research when addressed in light of employment opportunities or choices post separation. It appears that this type of culture is experienced in a number of the services, including fire and defence forces, and is stated to be crucial to the smooth operation of groups of employees in intense physical and psychological situations (Bolen, 1990; Wood, 1997).

Voluntary retirement

Voluntary retirement is addressed regularly in the literature and is full of accolade associated with the years of service that individuals have committed to the organisation prior to retirement (QPU, 2009-2010; WAPU, 2009-2010; NSWPA, 2009-1010; VICPA, 2009-2010). The reasons for retirement are normally focussed upon age related voluntary retirement, albeit it an age that actually renders the retirement non-voluntary given that all Australian police organisations have mandatory retirement. It is reasonable to expect that there is no need to focus upon the differing reasons for retirement once the mandatory age is reached, and as such there is minimal reflection in the literature as to whether there are medical reasons associated with retirement. Having said that, some Australian police organisations have the option of medical retirement and whilst this affects the literature it does not affect the statistics as it is still recorded as separation due to medical reasons as opposed to voluntary retirement. Essentially, it is a confusion of terms across the literature. Therefore, for the purposes of the review, it is considered that retirement refers to those who have left police organisations after reaching the mandatory retirement age. So, the reasonable amount of retirement literature indicates that years of service are well recognised and praised and the focus of discussion is upon the exiting comments or feedback from the retiree. Given these factors, voluntary retirement based on age will not be included as part of the scope of the research project.

Police rank

A further conclusion drawn from the literature is the measure of rank of individuals separating from the organisation. It is interesting to see whether there is a pattern of rank versus type of separation, that is, whether certain ranks are more likely to separate as a result of medical discharge, retirement, resignation or death. Overall, the literature reveals no pattern, except for a higher percentage of higher ranks at retirement, which is to be expected when years of service are included as one of the variables (QPU, 2009-2010; WAPU, 2009-2010; NSWPA, 2009-1010; VICPA, 2009-2010). The significance of this measure is that employability post separation may be improved by an increase in skills obtained during police employment. For example, the higher ranks in all Australian police organisations have greater exposure to management and business based skills as well as higher level security design exposure that bodes well for employment with other Government organisations as well as the private sector. On the other hand, it is also a consideration that an extended period in the employment of one organisation limits the amount of experience that an individual can obtain after gathering the basic and intermediary skills available. These are assumptions that are not evident in the literature and as such will be addressed as part of the interview process for the research.

Police specialty groups

Leading on from this is consideration of the vast number of specialty areas available in policing that provides extensive experience in a variety of areas and may negate the concept that too long in the job renders no new experience or skills. Wilson (1991) in her research of the specialisation of South Australian Police identified no variance in the level of job satisfaction and employment commitment between general duties policing and specialty units, but did identify that the satisfaction levels varied from each unit based on the skills they developed. As such, the information gained produced similar statistical outcomes but the basis for the statistics varied. That is, Wilson (1991) states that general duties police demonstrated a greater level of satisfaction with their superior officers and therefore their organisational commitment, but criminal investigations branch demonstrated satisfaction with their skill levels and therefore their organisational commitment (p.12). Wilson then concludes that overall the level of organisational commitment was lower than other similar agencies both in and out of Australia (p.12). Whilst professing to be measuring the differences in job satisfaction amongst specialty areas in the South Australian Police, Wilson fails to move outside the boundaries of organisational satisfaction (p.11-15). The approach to the research seems to have limited the outcomes to measuring the elements of the organisation that are common to all specialties as opposed to ascertaining unique identifiers in the specialty groups that may set them apart from each other. This reading of the literature indicates that it would be of use to enquire with the research participants about their exposure to specialty areas and therefore their extended experience and skill base outside the expected level of skills of a police officer in general duties. There appears to be a need to attempt to separate dissatisfaction with organisational commitment from dissatisfaction, if any, with specific specialty areas in order to ascertain the benefits, if any, of skill development in these areas.

This, of course, is based in the assumption that skill development inside the employ of the police organisation will contribute to potential employment outside of policing as well as contributing to the confidence of individuals to leave policing and pursue other options. It may also contribute to individual hesitation in leaving policing on the basis that alternative employment may not offer the same expanse of skill development.

Military

It has been difficult to correlate the military experience with that of policing as the nature of the organisations is considerably different. Largely this is a result of the paramilitary nature of policing that is contrasted with the highly disciplined nature of the Australian Defence Forces. It is with caution that policing is referred to as paramilitary and it is done so to distinguish it from the highly disciplined and openly military format of the defence forces which is not as apparent in policing. It is not, however, designed to demonstrate police in Australia as actively aggressive as opposed to fulfilling their role as protectors and peace keepers as is intimated by McCulloch (2001). McCulloch uses the term to disapprove of policing tactics, which is not the intention of the term here. Similarly, Jefferson (1990) portrays police paramilitarism as the presence of ‘large numbers and the protective clothing and equipment’ which creates images of riot police (p.109). However, paramilitary can also be used to describe an organisation that does have large numbers and is deployed in an organised and disciplined manner under the direction of their superiors (Waddington, 1993). The distinction between this and the actual defence forces is the level of discretion that the superiors and lower ranks have during the deployment of police. Obviously, for large portions of their shifts, police discretion is applied as to where they patrol, and what offences they look to police. This is not necessarily the case for the military, given the significance of their workplace events, such as manning a war zone location.

Most of the literature associated with exit issues for military personnel is focussed upon the psychological and medical conditions that are a direct result of the nature of military employment (Restubog, Scott & Zagenczyk, 2011; Park, 2011; Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 2009). Consequently, this is a result of the literature focussing upon individuals who have experienced active military employment as a result of being deployed to war zones or natural disaster locations. There is no apparent literature that addresses issues for military employees who do not experience active duty. As a result, the literature discusses the reintegration of military employees who are suffering a range of debilitating conditions which Makin-Byrd et al (2011) list as ‘traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, child abuse, suicide and partner violence’ (p.52). Whilst some of these conditions are common to policing, generally it is accepted that military action is much more likely to result in workplace stressors that have a lasting impact on the individual’s life. These stressors also attribute to the need for substantial reintegration practices for ex-military employees.

Commonly, reintegration techniques include psychological counselling, group therapy, physical activity, relaxation techniques, and parenting assistance to name just a few. But, interestingly, the literature reflects an additional consideration of the type of action experienced, breaking it into organised but voluntary military action like Iraq and Afghanistan which, in contrast to earlier conflicts, has exposure to different guerrilla based tactics of war, has longer and repeat deployments and exposure to what Makin-Byrd et al (2011) refer to as ‘random, unexpected yet survivable violence’ (p.47).

But what is most significant about this, for the purposes of this research, is the common application of reintegration measures to military personnel that is not mirrored in policing. But before addressing this it is important to note that the day to day events associated with military service can be considered as commensurate with what Stinchcomb refers to as the more one off events in policing. This means that the degree of trauma is considerably elevated for military personnel when compared to police, if measured in accordance with Stinchcomb’s three levels of stressors for policing discussed below. When the trauma is clearly identifiable and measurable, it should be easier to address and then heal. This is not, of course, intended to minimise the effect of war zone action on any individuals. So, when compared to policing, the main element that is lacking is the capacity to reintegrate police into the community following their service.

Social responsibility

Building on the issue that police perform their tasks 24/7 is the research by Jackson &Wade (2005) that focuses on the identification of police sense of responsibility based on police perception of social capital. Interestingly, Jackson and Wade are unable to conclusively prove a sense of responsibility is associated with social capital but there is a correlation with the level of crime. As the crime rate rises, the level of social responsibility for the police also rises, until the crime rate rises too much and then the level of social responsibility falls. Jackson and Wade do not specify a measurable level of crime at which this turns because it was not the focus of their research. However, it is an interesting find that police feel a level of social responsibility to their community based on the level of crime.

For the purposes of this paper, its significance lies in the capacity for individuals to dissolve that level of social responsibility once they are no longer employed by a police organisation. It appears as though they would need to find an alternative focus for their social responsibility. Having said that, if Jackson and Wade (2005) are correct in their statement that ‘crime is still an important factor for understanding police behaviour’ (p.15) then once those individuals are not associated with solving crime then their sense of social responsibility should diminish. This obviously needs further investigation, but there is limited literature on the presence of social responsibility in post-service police. Caudill & Peak (2009) does note the lack of exit systems for policing stating that there is an endless amount of psychological, psychometric and physical testing for individuals to enter policing but no similar system of testing for police to exit the employment. He is disappointed by this complete lack of testing for police leaving the employment when compared with the amount of testing required for them to enter because he believes it largely hinders their capacity to move forward post-service, both in employment and personally. From the reading of the literature there is no need for it to be a laborious process, but some responsibility needs to be taken for the fact that one day an individual carries a badge, a gun, and is not subject to the road rules; and the next day that is all gone.

Organisational stressors

Recent literature on organisational stress in policing has proven to be very useful in understanding the stressors associated with the employment and therefore the mechanisms by which this can be addressed when individuals leave (Stinchcomb, 2004). Traditionally occupational stress in the area of policing has been attributed to the individual capacity to handle traumatic events that occur as part of the day to day operations of the employment (Paton, Violanti, Burke, Gehrke, 2009; Brown; Campbell, 1995). However, Stinchcomb presents a different perspective that provides a level of understanding of the current environment of policing in terms of stress levels. That is, she states that the renowned traumatic events associated with policing are actually few and far between and therefore are not the primary source of occupational stress in this discipline. Instead, she notes that it is the daily grind of the occupation that causes stress and this can be a combination of the mundane roles undertaken by police individuals but also by the nature of the organisational management. For the purposes of this research, Stinchcomb’s (2004) discussion provides a new perspective to be considered when seeking the causes of employment separation issues for individuals leaving policing. This is in direct contrast with much of the literature, that continues to profess that policing is a difficult and traumatic occupation, and therefore it is worth looking at in more detail (Paton et al., 2009).

With consideration of Stinchcomb’s (2004) perspective, stress related issues in policing can be broken down into three categories:

  1. Traumatic events
  2. Repetitive confrontation in day-to-day events
  3. Poor management practices

As previously stated, Stinchcomb (2004) believes that the traumatic events that occur in policing are not necessarily the natural precursor to stress related issues for the individual. It is important to note that she certainly does not dismiss these events as not traumatic and does acknowledge these events as the cause of illnesses such as post traumatic stress disorder, but she does not rely upon the occurrence of these events as the only precursors for stress in individuals in policing. Instead, she identifies that it is the focus on these events as stressors that inhibits the identification of other stressors and therefore inhibits the appropriate treatment and prevention of stress in policing. The relevance of this to the current research is that it allows for a different approach to the psychological healing of police post-service. A lot of focus is placed on recalling, identifying and healing these events, but if they are not the sole course of stress than other elements need to be identified and healed accordingly.

Stinchcomb (2004) also addresses the day to day events as stressors for individuals in policing. This is consistent with other literature (Paton et al., 2009; Brown & Campbell, 1995) and confirms that policing contains repetitive stressors that, whilst not newsworthy and highly traumatic, do affect the individuals. It is not uncommon for a serving or ex-police member to put a number to a certain task they performed in the length of their career, such as ‘attending over 700 domestic violence scenes’, which identifies this task as a repetitive and somewhat mundane chore. This sort of tasking equates policing with other psychosocial occupations such as nursing. There is sufficient literature to conclude that these daily stressors are accepted and treated accordingly on an individual basis, with some success (Paton et al., 2009).

Most interesting is Stinchcomb’s (2004) attribution of stress related illness in policing to organisational issues in the organisation. Essentially, she states that organisational dysfunction attributes to more stress in a workplace than specific tasks or events, and that this does apply to police organisations (p.9). She explains it as a twofold occurrence. Firstly, the top-down management approach renders the lower ranks as powerless in their own working lives whilst being given a badge and gun to render them powerful over members of the community. She explains that this is a confusing situation for the individual. Secondly, the inability for individuals to contribute to, and participate in, their job role as a result of the paramilitary style of the organisation renders them unable to appropriately invest in their employment. This results in ill-placed investment and contributes to inappropriate workplace performance and corruption. What is most interesting about this information, for the purposes of this research, is the opportunity to examine the organisation of policing and identify whether post-service employment issues experienced by police are connected to the organisational structure they have left, especially if they elect to gain employment with another similar organisational structure. This would result in the same problems occurring, even though the individual expected the problems to alleviate once they were away from the traumatic and day to day events of policing. As such, where they thought ‘policing’ was the problem, it may well be that it is the organisational structures of their employment that is creating the stressors and dissatisfaction. This would certainly explain the conclusion that police should be self employed following their exit from the organisation because they ‘cannot play well with others’. It is suggested that organisational culture be pursued further in later literature reviews to fully explore the contribution of this issue to post service employability issues for police.

Alternative organisations – nursing and education

What is even more interesting with Stinchcomb’s (2004) work, and with the risk of focussing too much on a single piece of literature, is that the conclusions drawn about the organisational structure of policing allows a correlation to be drawn between policing as an organisation and the organisations commonly associated with nursing and education. She identifies similar organisational issues resulting in similar stress related responses in individuals.

The reason that this is significant is because providing treatment to individuals for stress related illness that is caused by an organisation results in a placebo affect at best. This is important because it informs the needs of the individual, and in particular treatment needs, moving forward after policing. Examining nursing is interesting because it has dual levels of education and both need to be examined to ascertain the contribution education can make to not only an individual’s ability to cope with a psychosocial environment, but also their ability to cope with organisation issues (Golubic, Milosevic, Knezevic, & Mustajbegovic, 2009).

Golubic et al (2009) state that ‘higher education has a positive effect in the maintenance of good work ability in occupations with psychological stress’ (p.3). Golubic et al (2009) identify the two levels of nurses, which in Australia are labelled registered and enrolled nurses, whilst in Europe are commonly known as staff nurses or senior nurses. Both registered nurses and senior nurses are degree qualified to the equivalent of a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Nursing, whilst staff nurses and enrolled nurses are vocationally qualified or not qualified at all. The literature indicates that their capacity to cope with the psychosocial elements is directly related to their level of education (Golubic et al., 2009). However, there is insufficient literature to conclude whether the level of education assists with their ability to cope with organisational issues. However, it is worth noting the similar organisational issues between nursing and policing which includes tension between administrators and employees arising from rigid policies and reluctant decision makers (Stinchcomb, 2004, p.8). In both organisational structures, Stinchcomb (2004) identifies that ‘it appears to be the nature of the workplace rather than the nature of the work that is most troublesome’ (p.9).

Stinchcomb (2004) identifies organisational issues in education as well, and this is supported by Sontag; Graber (2010). It is most interesting to draw this comparison with policing, because education, unlike policing and nursing, witness very few, if any, traumatic events and certainly no day-to-day events that should cause trauma. That is not to say that they do not experience day to day mundane chores that include looking after other people’s children. But, education does face the same organisational issues that are listed above such as top down management, stringent policies and reluctant decision makers.

So, whilst police do not traditionally transition from policing to nursing, there are a number of police who naturally turn to education to teach what they know. This commonly occurs in the vocational education sector but universities specialising in policing do employ ex-police for tasks associated with tutoring and, where qualified, lecturing. The question which then needs to be further investigated is whether they continue to feel employment frustration after making this transition because they are moving into similar organisational issues?

Further investigation of the literature failed to reveal whether the organisational issues associated with education are localised to structures such as government owned and run public schooling systems, or whether it extends to the more independent universities and private schools. It is expected that this will need further enquiry before any assumptions can be made about the transition of individuals from policing into education.

There is some literature that addresses issues associated with policing as a social status occupation. This appears to be an important element in the capacity for police to adapt to change post service, but is so intertwined with the organisational issues raised by Stinchcomb (2004) that it is difficult to distinguish the manner in which to deal with it appropriately. It seems to be unclear in the literature whether the status is created by the organisation as a need for the role to be fulfilled or in order to control the employees. This then leads to the question as to whether a lack of education in policing is due to the need to keep the employees under the control of this paramilitary organisation, and independent thinkers cannot be manipulated in this manner.

This leads to the need to discuss the differences between paramilitary and military organisations. It is important to understand the distinction between the two in order to understand the different issues facing individuals post-service policing as opposed to post-service military.

It is becoming clear that the need for education in policing is at the heart of this research project and an examination of the literature produces mixed results. In Australia, the direct literature supporting education in policing is limited, but it is clearly apparent through secondary literature addressing ethics and accountability in policing (Prenzler & Ronken, 2003). Education continues to present as a means to minimise corruption in policing. Jaschke (2010) notes that knowledge led policing is the way of the future with policing based on modern imperatives such as risk assessment and risk management a crucial practice moving forward. He identifies the success of implementing these imperatives as premised upon adequate education, training and research (p.1). Most importantly, Jaschke (2010) refers to the need to move away from industrial structures to service oriented delivery which requires a new level of knowledge based learning. He states that combining experience-based learning in policing model to research-based institutions with good networking capability is the key to improvement in the police and security industries (p.1)

Labour market

In a changing labour market it is interesting to examine where policing exists in the economy. Although this area was not examined at length, given the restrictions on this paper, some of the current literature reveals a move toward privatisation across the public sector in Australia (de Ruyter, 2001). There is further movement toward more flexible working conditions including an increase in casual and part time staff and an increased amount of people working from home. In contrast, this is not reflected in policing in Australia. The question then arises whether policing can continue to compete as an occupational choice when it fails to address the needs of the labour market. Obviously, privatisation of policing is on the surface an impossible achievement, but the privatisation of elements of the organisation could be an option. This would include outsourcing telephone recruitment activities, administration of paperwork, management of IT functionality and content. In addition, there may be some validity in the consideration of the appointment of management consultancy companies from outside the organisation to limit the constant stream of police managing police and improve the organisational structure.

The main issue which arises when using the words privatisation and police in the same sentence is the economic return to the private sector which is always a risk of increased corruption. Traditionally, and policing activities associated with increased financial return has the capacity to result in a higher level of internal and external corruption. Of course, given the ongoing rates of corruption in policing recorded across the country, it is worthwhile asking the question of how much worse it could get.

The increase in flexible working conditions for the labour market in Australia seems to be arising out of two areas. Firstly, the new generations are demanding greater levels of flexibility as a result of their vastly improved grasp on the use of technology. Secondly, employers are facing new financial challenges combined with a skills shortage which is resulting in hesitation in employing staff on a permanent, full time basis. A component of this is met in policing already by the introduction of part time arrangements for parents, as well as the long existence of shift work which results in more variable work hours and more annual leave per calendar year. However, the use of technology is yet to reach its full potential for the improved performance of police when away from their base location, particularly when in the more remote regions of the country.

Given the ongoing need for police, the perceived increase in crime rates in certain locations in Australia, the high attrition rates and the poor recruitment rates, a further examination of labour market influences on this area of employment would provide valuable insight for the research project going forward.

Conclusion

Overall, the literature review has proven to be more helpful than anticipated given the limited amount of literature in the specific area of employment post separation from police organisations. It was expected that the literature search would need to be widened to include the services such as the defence force looking for similarities, but this proved to be as limited in reading as the police perspective. As such, the reading material has steered into a number of different areas which, whilst not targeting the actual research objectives, has proven extremely informative for the development of the research interview structure. It has provided information about areas to exclude and avoid as well as areas to address. The knowledge gained from the reading material is useful insight into police organisations and the approach to different components of separation and will go a long way in developing the research process.

As an end note, it is worth mentioning that one of the concerns about the research that is exemplified by the literature is that all discussion points come back to psychological considerations, which are to be avoided in the conduct of this research. As such, it is worth evaluating whether the psychological issues need to be addressed as part of the research or whether it can be successfully avoided in reaching the research objectives. Clearly, there are psychological considerations for any employee of policing as the literature is very clear on the effect of this sort of employment on individuals, and this is not questioned. However, the absence of literature on police resignation not associated with medical issues is so limited that it supports the concern that police and psychological issues are not mutually exclusive and therefore cannot be studied as such. It is suggested that the research actually address this as part of the quantitative interview process, and provide the participants the opportunity to express their opinion as to whether the two issues are mutually exclusive. Further, participants can identify the contribution of psychological issues to their resignation, without having to reveal or revisit the actual psychological issues themselves.

From the information gathered and the extensive reading conducted it is expected that a well structured literature review will now be able to be developed in the upcoming unit for the study program and the research will have a well focussed target for the obtaining of information from participants. Knowing what not to ask, and what areas not to delve into have also assisted in ensuring that the research project stays within the boundaries of capacity given the limited time and resources dedicated to the conduct and reporting of the research material.

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