Durham police wear sensors to learn about stress

DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) -- A 6-week study done by RTI International and the Durham Police Department is providing valuable insight into how and where police officers feel the most stress.

Three volunteers wore a device similar to an Apple Fitbit to gather the data.

In a presentation to law enforcement from all over the Triangle Friday, researchers broke down what they discovered in the 600 hours-worth of information.

RTI tracked several different aspects of how the body reacts to stressful situations. Stress is a leading cause of a variety of physical health problems, including heart disease and diabetes, over a prolonged period.
There are also psychological problems associated with prolonged stress.

Researchers said Friday they found the highest levels of stress come from domestic violence or unknown situation calls.

The RTI device also tracked location, so researchers were able to track where officers where and at what time when spikes in stress occurred. For example, say an officer took two calls: one in north Durham, the other in south Durham. Both calls are for domestic violence related incidences. The device can track at what location the officer sees a higher spike in stress.

The locational data has yet to be analyzed.

The Durham Police Department said it took part in the study as part of proactive approach to ensure officer safety and wellness by developing a better understanding how officers experience stress.
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