Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Application in Law Enforcement

There are two categories of human needs, which include basic needs and secondary needs. Therefore, people choose to satisfy the most basic needs before satisfying other, not so essential, ones. This concept enlightens Maslow’s development of the hierarchy of human needs. He ranked them from those that are the most basic to those that are the least vital. The hierarchy summarizes all human needs in a pyramid and considers all kinds of them. All professions can apply the pyramid because all workers need to have their needs met in order to function properly. This paper is an investigation of the application of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in law enforcement.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs takes the shape of a pyramid, with the most fundamental needs at the base of it. The base of the pyramid has physiological needs, which ensure that the human body is physically fit. They include sleep, food, water, and so forth. The second category of needs has safety needs that include property, employment, and the like. The third category has belonging and love needs, which include family, friendship, and sexual intimacy (McLeod). The next category has esteem needs, which include confidence, respect by others, self-esteem, respect for others and, achievements. Lastly, the Maslow pyramid of needs has self-actualization needs like morality (McLeod).

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is applicable in any profession. In law enforcement, officers’ physiological needs have to be met for them to stay fit enough. Most law-enforcement work is tedious. This makes physiological health critical for the police officers to function properly. Safety needs are perhaps the most relevant needs in this case. The risks associated with police work make safety a key aspect of any operation, in which the police are involved (Gaffney). Law enforcement officers need to feel and stay safe while carrying out their duties. For instance, in circumstances where there is likely to be a shootout, law enforcement officers need to have back-up, sophisticated equipment, and protective clothing. Critics have argued that the safety needs in Maslow’s hierarchy are an exception in law enforcement because police officers put themselves in dangerous situations (“Leadership and Human Behavior” par. 10). However, having a secure community is equally important. Therefore, police officers meet their self-actualization needs by risking their lives to safeguard the society. Police officers need to have proper job security in order to have sufficient motivation in their work. They need to have families, property, and resources that enable them to live a fulfilling life. Law enforcement officers need to have their esteem needs met in order to relate well with their colleagues and other stakeholders in law enforcement. This means that with fulfilled esteem needs, law enforcement officers are likely to perform better in their jobs. After fulfilling the needs at the low levels of the Maslow pyramid, law enforcement officers need self-actualization. They need to have a sense of achievement so that, when they look back, they can appreciate the moral and problem-solving decisions they have made.

From the discussion above, it is apparent that the Maslow hierarchy of needs is relevant in law enforcement. From the most basic needs to the one for self-actualization, meeting the needs of police officers will lead to better performance at work. Although the application of safety needs is controversial in law enforcement, police officers risk their lives to make societies secure.


Gaffney, James. Sandy Hook: a Game Changer. 2013. Web.

Leadership & Human Behavior. 2013. Web.

McLeod, Saul. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. 2013. Web.