police selection procedures that allow police agencies to effectively screen out
applicants who possess undesirable characteristics or select applicants who possess
some examples physical fitness, cognitive abilities, personality, and performance on
various job-related tasks.
psychologists have been involved in police selection since the early twentieth
Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test to assist with police selection in California that
recommend a minimum IQ score of 80 for future applicants.
Following this, attempts were made to use personality tests to predict police
performance in the mid-twentieth century
mid-1950s, psychological and psychiatric screening procedures of police applicants
became a standard part of the selection procedure in several major police forces
1960s and 1970s, major changes to police selection procedures took place in the
United States, primarily as a result of two major events.
recommended that police forces adopt a higher educational requirement for
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
generally, the same selection procedures are used by police agencies across Canada,
although there are some slight differences across provincial and territorial boundaries.
In general terms, there are two separate stages to the police selection process.
1. Stage one is referred to as the job analysis stage.
Here, the agency must define the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) of a "good"
An organizational psychologist, working in conjunction with a police agency,
frequently conducts the job analysis.
One of the major problems that can be encountered is that the KSAs of a good
police officer may not be stable over time, making it difficult to determine what the
selection procedures should actually be testing for.
might be because different types of police officers, or different policing jobs, will
be characterized by different KSAs.
Another problem with conducting a job analysis is that individuals may disagree over
which KSAs are important.
2. Stage two is referred to as the construction and validation stage.
the agency must develop an instrument for measuring the extent to which police
applicants possess these KSAs.
A crucial part of this stage also requires that the agency determine the instrument's
research suggests that a different picture of performance can emerge depending on
what measure is used.
measures of performance during training often do not generalize to on-the-job
performance and ratings by different individuals are often contradictory
most interested in predictive validity: which is our ability to use a selection
instrument to predict how applicants will perform in the future.
The Validity of Police Selection Instruments Selection interview: 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 selection instruments used by the police.
Typically, they take the form of a semi-structured interview.
there is relatively little research examining the predictive validity of the selection interview in
the policing context
results are somewhat mixed--degree to which different interviewers agree on their
ratings of various attributes when interviewing the same applicant were relatively low
more structured an interview is, the more likely that it will predict future job performance
Psychological tests are also commonly used as a selection tool- some measure cognitive
abilities, whereas others assess an applicant's personality.
Cognitive ability tests
Although each test may emphasize something slightly different, they are typically used
to measure verbal, mathematical, memory, and reasoning abilities.
Such tests are used regularly when selecting police officers in Canada.
require you to take the RCMP Police Aptitude Test (RPAT).
measures 7 core skills that are essential in performance for a police officer: written
composition, comprehension, memory, judgment, observation, logic, and
these tests tend to be better at predicting performance during police academy training
compared with future on-the-job performance
the most common test is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)
developed as a general inventory to identify people with psychopathological
Has low validity coefficients when used to predict problematic police behaviours
Another test made for police selection is Inwald Personality Inventory (IPI).
identify police applicants who are most suitable for police work by measuring their
personality attributes and behaviour patterns.
The results found that the IPI was a slightly better predictor of on-the-job performance
in the one-year follow-up period than both the MMPI
The IPl was able to predict three of the seven indicators (supervisor ratings, citizen
complaints, and the overall composite of negative indicators).
MMPI could accurately predict only supervisor ratings
Assessment centre: is a facility at which the behaviour of police applicants can be
observed in a number of different ways by multiple observers
primary selection instrument used within an assessment centre is the situational
test, which involves simulations of real-world policing tasks.
Trained observers evaluate how applicants perform during these tasks, and the
performance appraisals are used for the purpose of selection.
Police discretion: task that involves discriminating between circumstances that require
absolute adherence to the law and circumstances where a degree of latitude is justified
important reasons for police discretion are a police officer who attempts to enforce all the
laws all the time would be in the police station and in court all the time and, thus, of little
use when serious problems arise in the community. Legislatures pass some laws that they clearly do not intend to have strictly enforced all the
Legislatures pass some laws that are vague, making it necessary for the police to
interpret them and decide when to apply them.
Most law violations are minor in nature, such as driving slightly over the posted speed
limit, and do not require full enforcement of the law.
Full enforcement of all the laws all the time would alienate the public and undermine
support for the police.
Full enforcement of all the laws all the time would overwhelm the criminal justice
system, including the prisons.
The police have many duties to perform with limited resources. Good judgment must,
therefore, be used in establishing enforcement priorities.
Areas Where Police Discretion Is Used
Common police responses to youth crime include formal arrests, police cautions,
community referrals, and family conferences.
approximately 30% to 40% of youth crime is handled informally
In Canada, polic