Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)


Robert Mason


police, resilience, burnout, physical fitness, stress


Social and Behavioral Sciences


This study seeks participation from patrol-level officers with at least two years’ experience in the New Castle County Police Department in Delaware (n=134) and requests that they respond to two questionnaires measuring resilience and job burnout: the 25-item Resilience Scale and the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Additionally, participants are asked to self-report their pre-hire fitness scores. Police officers are repeatedly exposed to trauma, which has negative mental and physical consequences, often leading to extreme stress, fatigue, and emotional imbalance. Repeated trauma also impacts physical fitness, which is critical for not only physical and mental health but also work performance, especially for police officers. Two related concepts are used to investigate the relationship between physical and mental health: resilience, which describes an individual’s capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, and burnout, a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. The data generated by the aforementioned scales are compared to pre-hire physical fitness scores to observe the relationship between pre-hire fitness and current levels of burnout and resilience. This study aims to improve the hiring practices of police organizations by identifying characteristics that enable candidates to manage repeated exposure to trauma. Failing to hire resilient police officers can produce physically and mentally exhausted police populations that cannot provide the public with safe and effective policing. The study hypothesizes that pre-hire physical fitness scores influence measures of resilience and burnout in patrol-level police officer populations.