Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)


Larry Anthony


Employee assistance programs, law enforcement, stigma, critical incident stress


Social and Behavioral Sciences


The purpose of this grounded theory study is to not only describe and understand what current resources exist for officers after experiencing a critical incident during the course of their job duties and responsibilities, but to also develop an understanding of their unique needs and how the stigma that often coincides with the desire to ask for assistance from such resources, affects officer mental health and wellness and ultimately, their ability to effectively and efficiently do their job. The theory guiding this study is grounded theory, a methodology first used in the 1960s by Glaser and Strauss, which incorporates interactionism and descriptive statistics and seeks to construct theory about issues of importance in peoples’ lives. The purpose is to examine the availability and effectiveness of such Employee Assistance Programs for officers at the Town of Culpeper Police Department in Culpeper, Virginia. Data collection was obtained through anonymous surveys of patrol and command-level officers to support current research showing that mental health and wellness programs and resources for police are in need of improvement.