On Choosing the Right Operational Police Physician

Agencies seeking police physicians would be well served to consider certain strengths to seek and pitfalls to avoid. In recent years, doctors associated with law enforcement have become increasingly common. Often, the physician is part of a tactical emergency medical support element, which usually puts the physician in an operational position with special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams or other active parts of the department. Alternatively, the police physician may engage in other critical roles such as consultant, psychologist, advisor, educator, occupational medicine consultant, or simply as a means of moral support for the officers. Most of these physicians volunteer their time; some are formally certified and sworn as police officers, while others prefer to play a more informal role.