Police Officer

Port Authority officials applaud their comrades at a ceremony honoring those who acted heroically during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City.

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Whether they work for local police, county sheriff's departments, highway patrol or other agencies, law-enforcement officers have one of the most stressful jobs around.

Whenever a call comes in, police officers must be ready to put their lives on the line. Even more stressful, they know that even a routine traffic stop or a seemingly ordinary incident can turn dangerous in seconds. Despite that knowledge, officers must practice restraint. They don't want to be accused of having used unnecessary force, and they don't want to cause the injury or death of another person. Their split-second judgments may be second-guessed by others for a long time.

The hours are long, and the schedules can take a heavy toll on family life. A sworn officer of the law is never really off-duty. He or she must be ready to step in if an emergency arises. And once again, they do lots of important work for relatively little compensation.

Then there are the armed officers who have the extra burden of long stints away from home. Keep reading to learn about another source of stress.