PSYC 3020 Chapter Notes -Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Police Psychology, Job Analysis

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Unit 3: Police Officers
-the purpose of this unit is to present the psychological foundations behind policing and
being a police officer
-most police in the course of their duties will act as problem-solvers, decision-makers,
social-workers, para-military personnel, and so on
Roles and Functions of Police
-law enforcement and the maintenance of public order are the traditional roles of polic-
-the public’s image of police as being crime-fighters or warriors may have some ele-
ments of truth, but does not capture the most typical activities of frontline officers
-police are expected to: make arrests and searches, respond to and handle emergency
calls, regulate and control traffic, advise, direct and provide information to the public, col-
lect and safeguard evidence, make necessary reports and records, safeguard property,
interview witnesses, testify in court, interrogate suspects, investigate citizens’ com-
plaints, operate and maintain related equipment, respond to and handle emergency
calls, perform miscellaneous duties, cooperate with other police agencies and allied
units, and maintain a professional attitude
-police also perform a wide variety of social functions which comprise the majority of
their time (80-90%) such as: provide assistance in disasters, administer first aid, inter-
vene in attempted suicides, locate lost or missing persons, intervene in family crisis and
domestic disputes, restore order in situations involving student unrest etc
-it is clear it is difficult to try to categorize or provide a simple definition of police roles,
tasks and function
Styles of Policing
-some police services emphasize the watchman style which accentuates the mainte-
nance of public order rather than enforcement of laws, this type of policing lacks profes-
sionalism and promotes underenforcement of the law, discretion allowed
-the second style of policing is labeled the legalistic style and is characterized by a
strict enforcement of the law, this force is highly professional and favors specialization,
arrests and citations are frequent
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-the service style of policing is less formal than the legalistic but more controlled than
the watch style, police are encouraged to intervene and make contact with a public that
expects personal attention to private needs and demands, they must adhere to legal
regulations but they are helpful and compassionate
-police have also displayed different types of strategies in dealing with the public and
-in the early 20th century, police were perceived as being arms of local political powers
such as crime fighting and special services
-the danger of such close associations was the possibility of bribery and corruption
-1930-1970s police agencies made an effort to separate police functions from political
influence, and turned to active concerns of law enforcement
-during this period, crime rates quickly increased and society and police were faced with
heightened unrest from individuals
-since the 1980s to the present, police departments have been increasingly influenced
by community policing philosophies
-police are less militaristic and more participatory in management style in their interac-
tions with community leaders and the public
-a concern for quality of life in the community is seen as a shared responsibility of re-
sources between police and the people who are served
-community policing involves such practices as decentralization of power, and the hiring
of civilians to perform many non-law enforcement tasks such as clerical, budgetary, dis-
pute mediation, research and training functions
Read Textbook Chapter 2
Chapter 2: Police Psychology
Police Selection
-police work is a complex, demanding, stressful and potentially dangerous occupation
-it requires intelligent, creative, patent, ethical, caring and hard-working individuals
Police Selection Procedures - a set of procedures used by the police to either screen
out undesirable candidates or select in desirable candidates
-characteristics may relate to physical fitness, cognitive abilities, personality and perfor-
mance on various job-related tasks
-Canada will experience a substantial shortage of police officers
-they will need young people to apply for policing jobs more frequently
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-young people are not particularly interested in pursuing a policing career
-police agencies are starting to use social media to recruit future police officers
A Brief History of Police Selection
-the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test was the earliest example in 1917
-by mid-1950s, psychological and psychiatric screening procedures became standard
-in the 60s and 70s, major changes took place because of 2 major events: (1) in 1967,
the US president’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice rec-
ommended that police forces adopt a higher educational requirement and (2) the Na-
tional Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals in the United
States recommended that police agencies establish formal selection processes, which
would include the use of tests to measure the cognitive abilities and personality features
of applicants
-many of the same selection procedures are used in Canada and the US
The Police Selection Process
-in general, there are 2 separate stages to this process
-Stage 1 is the job analysis stage, here the agency must define the knowledge, skills
and abilities (KSAs) of a “good” police officer
-Stage 2 is the construction and validation stage, the agency must develop an instru-
ment for measuring the extent to which police applicants possess these KSAs
Conducting Job Analysis
Job Analysis - a procedure for identifying the knowledge, skills, and abilities that make
a good police officer
-an organizational psychologists works with the policing agency to do this
-use survey methods, observational techniques, ask members of the police agency
-one of the major problems that can be encountered is that the KSAs of a good police
officer may not be stable over time
-KSAs that describe the ideal police constable will not be the same KSAs that describe
the ideal police manager
-another problem is that individuals may disagree over which KSAs are important
-regardless of how job analysis is conducted, the following KSAs are typically viewed as
essential: honesty, reliability, sensitivity to others, good communication skills, high moti-
vation, problem-solving skills and being a team player
Constructing and Validating Selection Instruments
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