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PSYC 3020 (97)
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Chapter 2

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3020
Dan Yarmey

Chapter 2 – Police Psychology POLICE SELECTION  Police work requires intelligent, creative, patient, ethical, caring, and hard-working individuals so it’s important that those accepted for the job have highest potential for success  Police selection procedures: set of procedures used by the police to either screen out undesirable candidates or select in desirable candidates - Desirable characteristics include physical fitness, cognitive abilities, personality, and performance on various job-related tasks th  Psychologists have been involved in police selection since early 20 century  Earliest example of psychologist involvement is Lewis Terman in 1917 who uses the Stanford-Binet IQ test to determine a baseline IQ of 80 for future applicants  Mid-20 century was use of personality tests to predict police performance  Mid-1950s psychological/psychiatric screening of police applicants became a standard part of the selection procedure  In 1960s and 70s major changes to police selection in the U.S. took place as a result of two major events: - 1967 – U.S. president’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended that police forces adopt a higher educational requirement - 1973 – U.S. National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals recommended that police agencies establish formal selection processes; since then selection has become more formalized  Canada and U.S. have very similar selection procedures; all Canadian police agencies conduct background checks and medical exams and most use a range of cognitive ability and personality tests (ex. RCMP’s Police Aptitude Test or RPAT)  Other police agency selection procedures include selection interviews, drug testing, physical agility tests, polygraph tests, and recommendation letters The Police Selection Process  Generally, there are two separate stages to the selection process: - Job analysis stage – agency must define the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) of a “good” police officer; an organizational psychologist working with a police agency frequently conducts job analysis; range of techniques used including observational methods and surveys; essential KSAs typically include honesty, reliability, sensitivity to others, good communication, high motivation, problem-solving skills, and being a team player - Problems with KSA analysis: different types of police officers will be characterized by different KSAs (ex. KSAs describing an ideal police constable will not be the same KSAs that describe an ideal police manager) - Individuals may also disagree with which KSAs are important - Construction and validation stage – agency must develop an instrument for measuring the extent to which police applicants possess these KSAs and also ensure that this instrument is valid (actually relates to measures of police performance – predictive validity) - Problems with validation of measures – most serious problem relates to how we measure the performance of police officers; several measures are used as indicators of job performance (# of times officer is late, # of complaints against them, # of commendation received by an officer, graduation from training academy, academy exam scores, performance ratings by supervisors/peers) The Validity of Police Selection Instruments  The Selection Interview: - Interview used to determine the extent to which an applicant possesses the KSAs deemed important in a job analysis - One of the most common instruments used and are typically semi-structured with a preset list of questions - Research on validity of selection interviews is mixed – some say they can be used accurately to predict job performance while other researchers argue decisions made on the basis of selection interviews can be problematic - Inter-rater reliability – changing the way the interview is constructed and conducted can have a big impact on its validity  Psychological Tests: - Cognitive Ability Tests – procedures for measuring verbal, mathematical, memory, and reasoning abilities; used commonly in Canada such as RPAT which measures written composition, comprehension, memory, judgment, observation, logic, and computation; these tests seem to be better predictors of performance during police academy training rather than on-the-job performance - Personality Tests – most commonly used is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) which is a test originally designed to identify people who have psychopathological problems including depression, paranoia, and schizophrenia; because it was never designed to be a selection instrument predictive validity is low. A personality test developed for police selection is the Inwald Personality Inventory (IPI) which identifies police applicants who are suitable for police work by measuring their personality attributes and behaviour patterns like stress reactions, interpersonal difficulties, and alcohol/drug use; IPI is more predictive of officer performance that MMPI  Assessment Centres: - A facility in which the behaviour of police applicants can be observed in a number of situations by multiple observers - Primary instrument used in assessments centres is the situation test which involves simulations of real-world policing tasks - Example scenario: domestic disturbance where applicant is given 15 minutes to meet with the two people involved in dispute, intervene, and resolve it...then given 20 minutes to complete an incident report - Not a lot of research examining validity of assessment centres although some research on situational tests suggest they have moderate levels of predictive validity POLICE DISCRETION  Police discretion is a task that involves discriminating between circumstances that require absolute adherence to the law and circumstances where a degree of latitude is justified, based on the officer’s knowledge, experience, or instinct  There are so many scenarios that require some degree of police discretion (ex. “Should I stop that vehicle for traffic violations?” “What level of force is needed to achieve my objective?” “Should I wait for backup?”) Why is Police Discretion Necessary?  It is impossible to establish laws that adequately encompass all the possible situations an officer can encounter and therefore a degree of discretion is inevitable  Arguments for why discretion is necessary include - Some laws are vague making it necessary for police to interpret them - Most violations are minor (ex. going 60km/h in a 50km/h) so don’t require full enforcement of the law - Full enforcement of the law all of the time would overwhelm the criminal justice system (ex. pris
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