Date of Award

Fall 2023

Project Type


Program or Major

Justice Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

David D Finkelhor

Second Advisor

Kimberly K Mitchel

Third Advisor

Robert R Eckstein


This study explores the complex interplay of departmental practices and policies, exposure to child sexual abuse material (CSAM), social support, group connectedness, and gender in relation to alcohol consumption among police officers. The cross-sectional study utilizes self-reported data from 528 police investigators, forensic examiners and others connected with the criminal justice system from across the United States. Analysis reveals exposure to CSAM does not demonstrate a significant correlation with drinking habits among police officers. However, one significant positive relationship was observed between viewing CSAM that involves children aged 6 to 10 and drinking patterns. Furthermore, departmental practices are not associated with drinking, except for having access to an employee assistance program (EAP), which is associated with less drinking, pointing towards the potential benefit of such programs in mitigating alcohol use. When examining gender differences in access to department practices and policies, the study found that Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) were linked with less drinking among male officers but not female officers. An additional significant relationship was identified between work burnout and increased alcohol consumption, suggesting that police officers experiencing higher levels of burnout (e.g., tired, resigned, frustrated) are more likely to drink alcohol. The roles of social support and group connectedness are nuanced, displaying an inconsistent relationship with alcohol consumption. In terms of gender, the analysis does not identify any significant disparities in how departmental policies impact alcohol consumption. The findings underscore the intricate and multifaceted nature of influences on alcohol use among police officers, suggesting the need for further research employing longitudinal designs, policy utilization assessments, and expanded focus on stress-coping strategies beyond alcohol use. Such insights hold potential for informing the development of comprehensive, sustainable intervention strategies within the police force.