Impact of Homeland Security Alert level on calls to a law enforcement peer support hotline.
The Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) was established by the Department of Homeland Security to communicate the risk of a terrorist event. In order to explore the potential psychological impacts of HSAS we analyzed the effects of terror alerts on the law enforcement community. We used data from the New Jersey Cop 2 Cop crisis intervention hotline. Incidence Rate Ratios--interpreted as average relative increases in the daily number of calls to the Cop 2 Cop hotline during an increased alert period--were computed from Poisson models. The hotline received a total of 4,145 initial calls during the study period. The mean daily number of calls was higher during alert level elevation compared to prior 7 days (7.68 vs. 8.00). In the Poisson regression analysis, the Incidence Rate Ratios of number of calls received during elevated alert levels compared to the reference period of seven days preceding each change in alert were close to 1, with confidence intervals crossing 1 (i.e. not statistically significant) for all lag periods evaluated. This investigation, in the context of New Jersey law enforcement personnel, does not support the concern that elevating the alert status places undue stress upon alert recipients.
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