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PSYC*3020 Unit 3.doc

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PSYC 3020
Dan Yarmey

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Unit 3: Police Officers Introduction - 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- ing - 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 - 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 government - 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 - 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 - the measure of validation that is more important is predictive validity - the ability to use a selection instrument to predict how applicants will perform in the future - the most serious problem relates to how we measure the performance of police offi- cers - a different picture of performance can emerge depending on what measure is used The Validity of Police Selection Instruments The Selection Interview - in recruiting police officers, an interview used by the police to determine the extent to which an applicant possesses the knowledge, skills and abilities deemed important for the job - one of the most common instruments - semi-structured - one of the main goals is to determine the extent to which the applicant possesses the KSAs that have been deemed important in a job analysis - these qualities may differ from agency to agency - relatively little research examining the predictive validity, research is mixed - many police researchers remain cautious about their use Psychological Tests - some measure cognitive abilities, others measure personality - there seems to be a general agreement among police researchers that psychological tests are useful in deciding whether a person possesses certain attributes Cognitive Ability Tests - procedure for measuring verbal, mathematical, memory and reasoning abilities - e.g. RCMP Police Aptitude Test (RPAT) measures written composition, comprehen- sion, memory, judgment, observation, logic, and computation - higher predictive validity scores - interestingly, personality characteristics play a role in determining job success, above and beyond one’s cognitive abilities Personality Tests - 2 most common are the MMPI and IPI - Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) - most common instrument used, it was developed as a general inventory for identifying people with psychopathological problems - has been associated with significant but relatively low validity - Inward Personality Inventory (IPI) - an assessment instrument used to identify police applicants who are suitable for police work by measuring their personality attributes and behaviour patterns - measures factors such as stress reactions, interpersonal difficulties and alcohol and other drug use - more predictive of police officer performance ethan the MMPI Assessment Centers - facilities in which the behaviour of police applicants can be ob- served in a number of situations by multiple observers - the primary selection instrument used within an assessment centre is the Situational Test, a simulation of a real-world policing task - these attempt to tap into the KSAs identified as part of a job analysis - e.g. a situation involving domestic disturbance - not a great deal of research examining the validity of assessment centers but some re- search does suggest that situational tests have moderate levels of predictive validity Police Discretion - many of the qualities necessary for success as a police officer have to do with the ap- plicant being adaptable, having common sense, possessing effective decision-making skills, and being a good problem solver Police Discretion - a policing task that involves discriminating between circumstances that require absolute adherence to the law and circumstances where a degree of latitude is justified Why is Police Discretion Necessary? - some individuals and interest groups believe that police officers should always enforce the law - police officers clearly do not (and perhaps cannot) do this all the time - what good are laws if they are applied only under certain conditions - it is impossible to establish laws that adequately encompass all the possible situations an officer can encounter, a degree of discretion is inevitable Reasons for Police Discretion: - a police officer who attempts to enforce all the laws all the time would be in the police station and court all the time - legislatures pass some laws that they clearly do not intend to have strictly enforced all the time - legislatures pass some laws that are vague, making ti necessary for the police to inter- pret them and decide when to apply them - most law violations are minor in nature, such as driving slightly over the posted speed limit - full enforcement of all the laws on the time would alienate the public - full enforcement of all the laws all the time would overwhelm the criminal justice system - police have many duties to perform with limited resources Areas Where Police Discretion Is Used Youth Crime - as the initial gatekeepers to the juvenile justice system, police officers have a great deal of discretion when dealing with young offenders - 30-40% of youth crime is handled informally by police officers through referrals to com- munity services - in Canada, police officers are actively encouraged to use discretion when dealing with youth crime - most consider informal action (warnings, involving parents) - sentences make matters worse by putting young offenders into a situation in which they are forced to interact and associate with other more serious offenders - greater attention is not being paid to restorative justice Resolution Conference - involves an offender and his or her family coming together with the victim and the police in an attempt to solve a problem - they attempt to come up with a plan to (1) compensate the victim, (2) penalize the youth, (3) provide support to the youth’s family and (4) establish a monitoring scheme to ensure the youth complies with the program - it is entirely up to the discretion of the police if this program is suitable for the offender Offender with Mental Illness - formal policies are often put in place that specify how police officers should deal with offenders who have mental illnesses - they typically instruct police officers to apprehend the individual whenever he or he poses a danger to self or others or is causing some other kind of disturbance - there are 3 options available: (1) they can transport that person to a psychiatric institu- tion, (2) they can arrest the person and take them to jail, or (3) they can resolve the mat- ter informally - many psychiatric programs will not accept everyone, particularly those considered dan- gerous, who also have substance abuse disorders and those with numerous previous hospitalizations - police officers often end up taking the person to jail Domestic Violence - historically domestic violence was often ignored but there is a more aggressive policy of arrest now - police officers still have a range of responses available to them including mediation, community referrals and separation - arrest rates range from 12-40% Use-of-Force Situations - police officers are granted the right and are actually required to use force to protect the general public and themselves - only to the extent that is necessary to accomplish the goal of suppressing a situation - problems arise in use-of-force situations because of ambiguity terms such as reason- able grounds and as is necessary - police use of force is a relatively rare phenomenon (0.0% of all police encounters) - male subjects account for the vast majority (93%) - 88% of subjects were under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol Controlling Police Discretion - methods for controlling inappropriate police discretion in use-of-force situations Departmental Policies - policies in NYPD meant to decrease the use of lethal force by officers and ws success- ful - in Canada there is a policy for taser use, which is intended to restrict when officers can use the weapon and provide new training requirements Use-of-Force Continuum - a model that is supposed to guide police officer decision making in use-of-force situa- tions by indicating what level of force is appropriate given the suspect’s behaviour and other environmental conditions - ensures that officers carefully assess and evaluate potential use-of-force situations when deciding what course of action to take - encourages them to use only what force is necessary to deal adequately with a situa- tion - there is a National Use-of Force Model in Canada Police Stress - policing is one of the most stressful occupations - police officers are exposed to many stressful events which can have a negative impact on police officers and their families as well as the organizations they work for Sources of Police Stress - different officers are likely to perceive different events as stressful, depending on their individual background, personalities, expectations, law enforcement experience, years on the job, type of law enforcement work they perform, and access to coping resources - the major sources of police stress tend to include organizational stressors, occupation- al stressors, criminal justice stressors, and public stressors 1. Occupational Stressors - relating to the job itself, they are the most stressful - e.g. irregular work schedule, human suffering 2. Organizational Stressors - relating to organizational issues, have a large effect on police officers - e.g. lack of career development, excessive paperwork 3. Criminal Justice Stressors - e.g. ineffectiveness of the corrections system, unfavourable court decisions 4. Public Stressors - e.g. distorted press accounts, ineffectiveness of referral agencies - top 3 highest ranked police stressors among ontario police officers are: (1) the feeling that different rules apply to different people, (2) fatigue and (3) feeling like you always have to prove yourself to the organization Consequences of Police Stress - can be categorized into physical health problems, psychology and personal problems and job performance problems Physical Health Problems - high blood pressure, cardiovascular disorder, high cholesterol, stomach ulcers, respira- tory problems, skin problems, weight gain, diabetes, death - police officers are more than twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease - rates of death due to cancer are significantly higher - difficult to determine how many health problems are due to the stressful events police officers are exposed to and how many of them are due to the lifestyle habits adopted by police officers Psychological and Personal Problems - depression and anxiety, aggression, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, domestic violence, separation and divorce, extramarital affairs, burnout - like the case of physical health problems, research can be contradictory Job Performance Problems - low morale, tardiness, absenteeism, early retirement, reduced productivity, reduced ef- ficiency, citizen complaints, turnover, hostile interactions - consequences are serious from an organizational perspective Preventing and Managing Police Stress - over the last 20 years, formal stress programs have been set up in most agencies to combat the effects of police stress - strategies include informal support networks, physical fitness programs, professional counseling services, family assistance programs and special assessments following ex- posure to critical events such as shootings or accidents - one particular strategy is training police officers to use effective coping skills e.g. teaching officers how to communicate with others more effectively - the Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress (BCOPS) Study is the largest, most comprehensive study of police stress ever conducted - the primary purpose is to study the effects
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