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Psychology (9,573)
PSYC39H3 (201)
Chapter 2

Chapter 2

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University of Toronto Scarborough
David Nussbaum

PSYC39 Psychology and Law Chapter 2 Police Psychology This chapter will deal with a number of issues in the area of police psychology, including police selection, police discretion and police stress. Case study Officer James Leyton gets a call from patrol radio indicating that a domestic violence dispute has been reported. The report says that neighbours heard screaming and sounds of gunshots from the house. Officer Leyton and his partner arrive at the house where they can hear two people arguing. The knock on the door, which is opened by a young girl who tells the officers that her parents are fighting in the kitchen. Officer James approaches the kitchen and sees a man and women. The man is upset. From their conversation, officer Leyton figures out that the woman has caught the husband cheating on her, and is threatening to divorce him and move away with the child. At this point, the man reaches for a gun on the kitchen counter and tells his wife he will kill her if she ever leaves. The husband points the gun at the wife, but before any shots are fired, office Leyton shoots the husband in the chest. Officer Leyton radios for an ambulance and the husband is taken to the hospital, where he dies from his injuries. The case study above raises many questions about police officers and the nature of their work. As police psychologists we can ask the following o Whether Officer Leyton is able to think clearly when he is under pressure. o If not, then why was he able to successfully graduate from the police academy? o Did officer Leyton make an appropriate choice when he decided to shoot the husband? o Was there anything else he could have done? For example use mace or pepper spray OR de-escalate the situation by asking the husband to calm down and talk things through. o How will officer Leyton deal with the death of the husband? Will he be able to shrug off the incident and go back to his normal ways or will he need psychological counselling? Police Selection The following is from the City of Vancouver Police Department Recruiting website www.notesolution.com o On 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 unstable. 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 20 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 accuracy. By the 1950s 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 and conscientiousness. 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. www.notesolution.com
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