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The occupation of first-responder police officer is archetypal of an occupation involving emotional incidents (Oligny, 2009; Monier, 2017). Given the strong emotional demands involved in their work, the relationship of “first responders” with the general public sometimes affects the officers’ health.
These emotional demands pose a psychosocial risk (PSR) factor (Gollac and Bodier, 2011) and require the ability to regulate the fear, anger, sadness, disgust, and surprise inherent to a context of uncertainties and potential violence. In a professional “at-risk” environment containing significant work requirements and placing emotional and physical strains on the professionals, what resources do these latter mobilize? What role do management and Human Resources professionals play in extending these resources?
The question of emotions in mammals and in humans in particular has been explored in various literatures, at least since Charles Darwin. Whether taken from empirical observations in analyses and scientific experiments or presented as a universality in social construction, emotions are a leverage for reflection without being considered as contrary to reason (Damasio, 1995). The work of Ekman (1994) in the late twentieth century provides a benchmark in the statement of “basic,” universal emotions. The works of Feldman-Barrett (2017), and Tcherkassof and Fridja (2014), however, highlight the existence of a methodological bias; the research protocols used for bringing to light the universality of emotions and of their expressions would have included suggesting to the subjects the naming of the emotions…


The dramatic number of police suicides in France since the beginning of 2019 has led the government and police unions to consider the psychosocial risks (PSRs) involved in this sector and the suicide phenomenon as national emergencies. The strong emotional demands associated with first-responder occupations engage emotions from a large spectrum of intensity and valence. To meet these demands, it is in first-responder police officers’ interest that their individual and collective resources be explored, introduced into their awareness, and verbalized. When facing the burden of emotional demands, what resources do police officers have at their disposal? More particularly, how are the training institutions, and the management and Human Resource Management (HRM) professionals contributing to the integration, mobilization, and development of their emotional competencies? This research explores and defines a concept that is absent from the literature on organizational behavior, namely “self- triggering vigilance,” and elucidates the role played by the institutions training the supervisory and management officers in management’s development of work-regulation areas, and of cognitive and physical preparation for action in work situations. Our results highlight the need for HRM and management professionals to recognize the emotional demands, which are PSR factors, involved in the work, as well as to preserve the health of the workforce and intervention safety by allowing police officers to practice and sharpen this indispensable individual and collective resource we call self-triggering vigilance.

  • vigilance
  • self-triggering vigilance
  • emotions
  • management
  • police

Les émotions en actions : la mise en vigilance des policiers de primo intervention

Le nombre dramatique de suicides chez les policiers depuis début 2019 a conduit le gouvernement et les syndicats de policiers à considérer les risques psychosociaux (RPS) dans ce secteur ainsi que ce phénomène suicidaire, comme des urgences nationales. Les métiers de primo intervention sur la voie publique comportent d’importantes exigences émotionnelles impliquant des émotions de valence et d’intensité variables. Pour faire face à ces exigences, les ressources individuelles et collectives des primo intervenants sur la voie publique ont intérêt à être explorées, conscientisées, verbalisées. Face au poids des exigences émotionnelles, quelles sont les ressources dont disposent les policiers ? Quel est le rôle des instances de formations, du management et de la Gestion des Ressources Humaines (GRH) dans l’intégration, la mobilisation, et le développement de leurs compétences émotionnelles ? Cette recherche explore et définit une notion absente dans la littérature en comportements organisationnels : la mise en vigilance, et explicite le rôle des instances de formations des corps d’encadrement et de direction dans l’élaboration managériale de zones de régulation du travail et de préparation cognitive et physique à l’action, en situation de travail. Nos résultats soulignent la nécessité de reconnaissance des exigences émotionnelles du travail, facteurs de RPS, par les professionnels de la fonction RH et les fonctions de management, ainsi que la préservation de la santé des effectifs et la sécurité d’intervention, en permettant aux policiers de pratiquer et d’affûter cette indispensable ressource individuelle et collective qu’est la mise en vigilance.

  • vigilance
  • mise en vigilance
  • émotions
  • management
  • police
Hélène Monier
Hélène MONIER is a professor and researcher at Burgundy School of Business (BSB) in Dijon, École Supérieure de Commerce (ESC—Graduate School of Business), associated with the CEREN research center on enterprise (CEREN, EA 7477) at BSB, as well as with the national higher police academy École Nationale Supérieure de la Police (ENSP). Her research areas are focused on health and safety at work and on the regulation of emotions in high-reliability sectors such as that of the national police force. She is interested in the forms of regulating affects in organizations, at the individual, collective, and managerial levels with a view to preserving the professionals’ health and the quality of service or intervention. She teaches the following disciplines: Human Resources Management, Management of Organizations, Quality of Working Life, Health and Safety at Work and Emotional Intelligence, in both initial and continuous training. She is also Vice Chair of the Association Les Pôles du Management—Lyon Rhône, an association of managers and leaders.
Éric Henrion
Éric HENRION is Police Commander, in charge of overseeing the management at École Nationale Supérieure de Police. Additionally, as Homeland Security trainer, he facilitates, in-person or remotely, in behalf of the police, partners of the network of public-service schools, or private operators, training courses related to non-verbal communication, to regulating emotions, and to triggering vigilance in situations of aggression. Henrion has 1st degree state certification (Brevet d’État 1°) in karate and also teaches this content at personal-protection and self-defense training courses. He designs and facilitates training sequences dealing with non-verbal communication and managerial postures. He is otherwise interested in the use and relevance of training, and at in-person educational sessions confronts the weight of legal and regulatory writings with the force of the emotional process in conflict situations.
David André
David ANDRÉ is a police sergeant and a deputy to the chief of the division for teaching information and communication technologies at École Nationale Supérieure de la Police. A police officer for more than twenty years, he spent a long time on the field before moving into training. Author of La balistique terminale simplifiée (2016), he is interested in the use of weapons and their effects, as well as in psychology and human behavior in combat situation. He participates in simulations of weapon use by police chiefs during their initial training, as well as in mass-murder simulations.
Translated by
Marina Urquidi
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
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