skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 220248 Find in a Library
Title: Decision Making in a Crisis
Journal: Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations  Volume:7  Issue:2  Dated:2007  Pages:5-28
Author(s): H.H.A. Tony Cooper Ph.D.
Date Published: 2007
Page Count: 24
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: After defining "crisis,” this article addresses the dynamics of decisionmaking in a crisis, with attention to such decisionmaking in the law enforcement profession, which usually involves stressful conditions.
Abstract: For the purposes of this article, a "crisis" is defined as "a certain point in the trajectory of an event at which the future course of the matter is determined." A crisis is a moment during which the outcome of an event might be influenced. Police officers, by the nature of their work, have the potential to be involved in crises, such as being confronted by an armed assailant or a hostage situation. Police officers are at the center of the crisis in that they are entrusted with the professional responsibility of making and acting upon decisions that influence the course of the event according to goals associated with law enforcement and public safety. Foresight, preparation, training, skills, and personal qualities are elements that determine what decisions are made and how they are executed. Given the nature of law enforcement work, decisionmaking in a crisis is likely to include the element of "stress," which is defined in this article from a medical perspective as "any interference that disturbs a healthy person's mental and physical well-being." This article is concerned mainly with the stressors that act directly or indirectly upon the human mind so as to influence decisionmaking. Prominent among such stressors is fear, which has the effect of distorting the decisionmaking process by undermining rationality, i.e., the ability to draw logical conclusions about the likely effects of various alternative decisions and whether or not they will advance desired outcomes. In the course of their training, police officers must learn to manage stress so that rationality is preserved in the decisionmaking that largely determines the outcome in crises. 53 notes
Main Term(s): Police crisis intervention
Index Term(s): Crisis management; Critical incident stress; Decisionmaking; Police discretion; Stress management
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.