Every day is different for a law enforcement officer, and there’s no such thing as a routine call.

Law enforcement officers routinely see severe car accidents, cases of abuse, or dead bodies — and they never know where their next call will take them.

In a Spectrum News original, we explore The Weight of the Badge, airing:

  • Tuesday, May 28 at 8 p.m.
  • Friday, May 31 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, June 2 at 7 p.m.

Researchers have found that constant adrenaline rush, and repeated exposure to trauma is affecting officers' health — and the stress is leading to their early deaths, from disease and suicide. In a first-of-its kind study, scientists at the University at Buffalo are learning how PTSD can affect the law enforcement officers' decision making.

“On average, police officers die at a rate of 10 years earlier than the general population,” said Dr. John Violanti.

Dr. Violanti is doing groundbreaking work at UB, thanks to a grant from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. He’s been studying more than 300 Buffalo police officers. He found the officers regularly exposed to high levels of stress were at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They're also at greater risks of suicide.

“A police officer has a 69 percent greater risk of suicide than any other worker in the U.S. We know that PTSD is a culprit in suicide,” said Violanti.

Violanti says officers need to be healthy both physically and psychologically, for themselves and for the public they protect.

We explore the topic in our special, Weight of the Badge, Spectrum News original feature. Catch the full show, beginning Tuesday, May 28.