Chapter 2 – Police Psychology
– the research and application of psychological principles and clinical skills to law
enforcement and public safety
Usually a police psychologist starts out:
Providing consulting services to police agencies, such as screening and selection, or
psychotherapy or counseling of police officers and their families
If the psychologist proves effective, trustworthy, and credible:
The department might request help with management problems, shift work, fitness-for-duty
evaluations, or evaluating officers who have applied for promotion
Evaluate an alleged use of excessive force, become part of the hostage/crisis negotiation team
Beginning of the Profession
– (1968) when Martin Reiser, EdD, was hired as a full-time in-house
psychologist by the LAPD and then wrote an influential paper on police psychology in 1972
Trends in Police Psychology
Mental and Aptitude Testing
In the beginning (1917-1927) cops scored below average on the IQ and Army Intelligence
In fact, the higher ranking the officer was, the lower he scored in intelligence.
was believed that the more intelligent individuals who entered police service quickly left for
other occupations, where their ability and intelligence were better recognized.
Now that police work requires more education and pays a little better, current mental evaluations
show that officers, in general, are of average or above average IQ.
Applying officers must be put through an evaluation to determine if they have the adequate
personality traits to be an officer and don’t have any biases or prejudices against any minorities.
– tries to eliminate those applicants who demonstrate significant signs
of psychopathology or emotional instability or who lack the basic abilities to perform the job in a
safe and responsible manner.
– intend to identify those attributes that distinguish one candidate over
another as being potentially a more effective officer.
Used to select the top candidates form a pool that passed the initial screening procedures.
Successful officers need to have: good judgment, common sense, appropriate decision-
making skills, interpersonal skills, a good memory, good observation talents,
– the applicant is placed in simulated police situations where he is observed
and rated on how well he responds
– requires a candidate to submit to questions fired by supervising officers, oftentimes
done with the help of a polygraph.