oOn any given day police officers respond to burglar alarms, console
victims and assist people getting their life back on track. They log events
at crime scenes, apprehend criminals and testify in court. The officers use
skilled investigation techniques. They are required to have sound
knowledge of modern police methods. They also must learn the Criminal
Code and other police policies. Often officers must make detailed
observations, and recall events after the fact for court purposes. They are
trained to deal with fire arms under emergency situations. Finally they
must deal with people who are intoxicated, high on drugs or mentally
•From this excerpt police work is complex, demanding, stressful, and a
potentially dangerous occupation. Policing requires intelligent, creative,
patient, ethical, and hard-working individuals.
•This requires a use of valid police selection procedures which is a set of
procedures used by the police to either screen out undesirable candidates or
select desirable candidates.
Brief History of Police Selection
•The task of selecting police officers is not a new phenomenon for police agencies
or psychology. In the early 20th century Lewis Terman used the Stanford-Binet
intelligence test to assist with police selection in California (Terman, 1917).
This led him to recommend a minimum IQ score of 80 for applicants.
•In 1940 personality tests were used for LAPD applicants using the Humm-
Wadsworth Tempermant Scale. This predicted job success with high levels of
•By the 1950’s psychological and psychiatric tests became mandatory for all
applicants. Later on police agencies were required to use formal selection
processes, which included measuring cognitive abilities and personality features.
Table 2.1 displays the different selection procedures used and the percentage of
police agencies that use them.
•In Canada all police agencies conduct background checks and medical exams for
all applicants. Canada also uses tests that measure cognitive ability, personality
The Police Selection Process
•The general stages that a force must go through are the same whether they use a
screening out approach or selecting in approach.