Proposed are the standards for psychological screening of law enforcement, fire, school police, and public safety personnel applicants.
Psychological screening can assess the emotional stability of the above said candidates while focusing on two main categories:
- Screening for evidence of clinical psychopathology, which when present, may be assumed to substantially interfere with the safe and efficient functioning of an individual in the law enforcement profession.
- Screening for variants of non-clinical psychological functioning which, although not definitive of psychopathology per se, can be empirically related to relatively poor performance in training and/or subsequent job functions in the law enforcement profession.
Psychological screenings are conducted by one of two Clinical Psychologists, Dr. Kathy Wellbrock or Dr. Sara Hibbs who are involved in the objective test assessment of the screening procedure. They are well versed through training and experience, in the construct and interpretation of psychological testing instruments.
After integrating the test data and clinical interview data, the doctor prepares a written summary of findings and interpretations. The summary will state clearly the evidence, if any, of psychopathology suggested by the test battery and corroborated by the clinical interview and will mention the job-related impact of such findings.
The three best sources of information on the evaluation of law enforcement/public safety applicants usually are: 1) a psychological test battery; 2) background information and 3) in depth “clinical” interview by one of our doctors who are experts in the law enforcement profession. Psychological screening minimizes the admission of inappropriate candidates.
Research shows that excessive stress can lead to aggressive and unconventional behavior, as well as mental and physical problems and breakdowns on the job. There is considerable evidence suggesting that more law enforcement personnel are affected by job-related stress than the normal work force.
The screening process can aid in detecting the stress prone individuals and can be beneficial in the prevention and management of undue stress in those individuals and therefore aids the department humanely and financially.
Statistically, 5% to 20% of law enforcement personnel are psychologically unsuitable. Not all applicants perform at the same level and the unsuitable applicants do not always appear as obviously inappropriate. Some individuals will look very good, while others will obviously look unacceptable. A great majority will be somewhere in-between. This in-between or middle range person who, upon evaluation by the doctor demonstrates risk of engaging in liability resulting behavior should be screened out.
The following tests are used in the screening process…The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2), the most widely used and accepted psychological test in the United States today, the California Psychological Inventory (CPI) or the Sixteen Personality Factor Test (16PF), a short form I.Q., which is the Shipley-Hartford Institute of Living Scale (SHIP) and The Sentence Completion Test which is used to give insight into the applicant’s personality.
To schedule an appointment, the department will need to call the Psychological Testing Coordinator, at (909) 884-0133. She will set up the written testing date with the department. Generally the written testing is conducted on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:00am however exceptions are permissible. The applicant will need to allow four to six hours for the written test. During the written test, the applicant’s oral interview will be scheduled not to exceed 5-working days following the written testing. The oral interview will last approximately 45 minutes with one of our Clinical Psychologists. The applicant will need to come dressed in business attire for this interview. In some cases, a department may request that a same day oral appointment be made. This is usually necessary if the applicant lives further than one hour away. In that case, the department will need to notify The Counseling Team International as soon as possible in order to assure that the test can be set up in a timely manner. Usually, the oral interview appointments fill up approximately two weeks in advance.
After the testing is scored, the applicant is interviewed using background material provided by the applicant and his test results. History being the best predictor of future behavior, evaluee’s relationships: social, familial and vocational are explored. This interview and the accompanying test results are summarized in a brief report, which supports a final score, Psychologically Suitable – Score 3.0 or Psychologically Unsuitable – Score 2.0.