Importance of Screening in Hiring of Law Enforcement
Importance of Screening in the Hiring of Law Enforcement
Various criminal justice careers demand that all successive applicants be subjected to psychological exams and screening before they are hired. The process is an attempt by security agencies to maximize the quality of their personnel. Applicants are screened for psychological conditions or characteristics that may later compromise their abilities to function effectively (Walker & Katz, 2012). The process of psych evaluation of officers has been widely criticized mainly because it lacks consistency and standardization (Dantzker, 2011). It’s been noted that the type and number of tests carried are determined by the psychologist’s preference. However, most people who criticize this process do so for lack of understanding of its importance. Screening is a vital part of the hiring process of law enforcement for various reasons that include determining important aspects necessary for the recruitment of best-fit officers into the agencies.
One of the most important roles of psychological screening is to screen out those who exhibit symptoms of mental illness that would declare them an evident and immediate threat to public safety because they can easily access firearms. Applicants who display homicidal tendencies, inclination to commit suicide or have unpredictable grasp of reality are less likely to handle frustration hence are potential danger to themselves and society (Aumiller & Corey, 2007). The screening has also facilitated arrest of seemingly perfect candidates for the job. Individuals leaving active-duty military jobs, for instance, appear to be a perfect fit for police careers. In such circumstances, some of these applicants once subjected to the examination are discovered to have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorders that can limit their abilities to perform their duties.
Screening presents law enforcement agencies with an opportunity to identify and measure personal qualities associated with successful careers in the field. Information gathered from these evaluations provides agencies with rare opportunities for benchmarking applicants against attributes and attitudes of high performing officers. The tests performed are also effective predictors of job performance. Personality tests, situation judgment tests and cognitive tests done during the screening process have high validity to predict applicant behaviors and performance once recruited as these tested characteristics and abilities are correlated to job performance (Dantzker, 2011). It is, therefore, very important as it enables law-enforcement bodies recruit high-quality officers.
Psychological screening saves law enforcement from both financial and public relation humiliations associated with hiring errors. It is quite costly for the agency when it has to explain extreme acts of misconduct by one of its members to the public. The process has also been proven to save agencies costs in training as the characteristics tested show a strong correlation with work relevant factors including training program successes (Aumiller & Corey, 2007). Law enforcement officers have to cope with developments such as technological advancements since they are applied by criminals. Criminal activities are increasing in degrees of sophistication and for security officers to keep up with such trends they constantly undergo training. By reducing such costs, the process greatly benefits agencies and, hence, important.
Other important roles of the screening are where the process has managed to reduce bias and corruption within the law enforcement agencies. Through the tests, biased attitudes of the applicants may be identified. The process ensures recruitment of fit candidates who exhibit high levels of integrity hence are less likely to engage in corrupt misconducts (Cloussen-Rogers & B, 2005).
Both research and history of law enforcement recruitment indicate that psychological screening is a valid and reliable tool in the selection process of police officers. Development of these testing programs has resulted in the formulation of advanced programs that facilitate enrollment of most suitable officers.
Aumiller, G. S., & Corey, D. (2007). Defining the Feild of Police Psychology: Core Domains and Proficiencies. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology , 65-76.
Cloussen-Rogers, N., & B, A. (2005). Police Corruption and Psychology Testing: A Strategy for Pre-employment Screening. Durham: Carolina Academic Press.
Dantzker, M. L. (2011). Psychology Pre-employment Screening for Police Candidates: Seeking Constistency if not Standardization. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 276-283.
Walker, S., & Katz, C. M. (2012). The Police in America: An Introduction. New York: Mc Graw Hill Publishers.