First police and public safety psychologist
United States 1968
Martin Reiser hired as the first full-time in-house psychologist by the LAPD
Preemployment psychological screening
The psychological evaluation that is conducted prior to a conditional offer of employment
- Evaluate a person’s psychological suitability for police work
Fitness-for-duty evaluations (FFDEs)
Assessments conducted to determine the psychological ability of law enforcement officers to perform their essential job functions, particularly after experiencing a major stressful event.
Evaluate employed police officer’s ability to continue performing the job, at least for the time being
- Often occurs after officers have been through personally stressful experiences
A set of behaviors and attitudes that are presumed to be characteristic of individuals involved in law enforcement work, such as suspicion, toughness, and protectiveness of other law enforcement officers.
Police psychologists must recognize and understand this culture —> should reasonably accommodate it as long as it does not endanger public safety…
Police officers have a unique occupational culture that values
Control, authority, solidarity, and isolation
Identification and analysis of the skills, abilities, knowledge, and psychological characteristics that needed to do a job.
Designed to eliminate those law enforcement applicants who demonstrate significant signs of psychopathology or emotional instability or who lack the basic ability or mental acuity to perform the job in a safe and responsible manner.
- Most commonly used by police psychologists
- Eliminate those who appear to be poorly suited for work in law enforcement
Intended to identify those attributes (almost always personality) that distinguish one candidate over another as being potentially a more effective police officer.
- This approach assumes that there are traits, habits, reactions, and attitudes that distinguish an outstanding officer from a satisfactory one.
The extent to which a test predicts a person’s subsequent performance on the dimensions and tasks the test is designed to measure.
An instrument has predictive validity if it is able to identify which candidates will and will not succeed at law enforcement work.
Face (or content) validity
Refers not to what a psychological test actually measures, but to what it superficially appears to measure.
Test or inventory has this validity if its questions appear relevant to tasks needed in law enforcement
Most commonly used personality assessment in police screening and selection
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory - Revised (MMPI-2)
Self-administered personality inventory used in numerous contexts, including law enforcement screening.
Most commonly used psychological instrument for police and public safety preselection screening
- Has 557 questions
What does the MMPI-2 measure?
Positive personality traits, such as stress tolerance, emotional maturity, self-control, and judgment
Refers to the emotional and stressful effects that the policies and practices of the police department have on the individual officers.
Stressors include —> poor pay, excessive paperwork, insufficient training, inadequate training, weekend duty, shift work, inconsistent discipline or rigid enforcement of rules and policies, limited promotional opportunities, poor supervision and administrative support, and poor relationships with supervisors or colleagues
Stress related to the nature of the work itself. In a law enforcement context, for example, this includes the possibility of being killed in the line of duty.
Stressors include —> inactivity and boredom, situations requiring the use of force, responsibility of protecting others, frequent exposure to death
Police are expected to keep their emotions under control, a process that has been referred to as “emotional labor”
Surface acting or emotional dissonance
Suppressing the emotion that is actually felt and faking the appropriate emotion that the situation (or job) demands.
- Evidence supports that this could have a detrimental effect on health and well-being
Stress that is outside of one’s daily tasks. In the law enforcement context, they include frustrations with the courts, the prosecutor’s office, the criminal process, the correctional system, the media, and public attitudes toward policing.
Stress related to marital relationships, health problems, addictions, peer group pressures, feelings of helplessness and depression, and lack of achievement.
- Female officers as a group generally possess better communication and social skills than their male colleagues and are better able to facilitate the cooperation and trust for a community policing model.
- Hiring more women is likely to be an effective way of addressing the problems of excessive force and citizen complaints and also of improving community policing in general.
- It should also reduce the problem of sex discrimination and sexual harassment by changing the climate of the agency.