This is about the worst time in United States history to be a police officer.
Politicians have made police to be blamed for many of society's problems, which is ironic given the psychological testing this article addresses.
Police officers have always been under acute pressure due to the nature of what they do. They are expected to be:
a. enforcers of the law
b. keep citizens safe in threats
c. lawyers with expertise in law application
d. marriage counselors
e. lie detectors
f. therapists who can de escalate everything from violence to suicide
g. strong but self contained
h. confident but humble
i. experts in gun safety
j. experts in vehicle safety
k. experts in juvenile interaction
and on and on it goes.
All this at wages that are less than some who do non-skilled employment.
In hiring our best and brightest, the pay commensurate to the work should exist and no hiring should ever be done race based. This only serves to harm the profession and put the public at greater risk. It is racism; that is, an arbitrary application that, over time, will mean lower solve rates and increase in misconduct.
Now, when a single officer breaks the law, the press uses propaganda, at the tip from politicians, to paint them all as violent racists.
******Psychological tests are designed to be discriminatory. They are designed to discriminate those who pose a risk of danger to society from those who do not. ********
A police officer carries not only a lethal weapon upon his or her person, but carries authority to deprive a citizen of his or her freedom.
When someone is pulled over, the driver is at an extreme disadvantage in most cases because the person approaching the car is carrying lethal force as well as legitimate governmental authority. Although the officer is also at risk, not knowing who is in the vehicle, and what force (and intentions) are within, statistically, it is the driver at risk.
When a police officer commits a crime that includes the element of exploitation, police everywhere take the hit to their reputation. In seminars, I sometimes ask officers upon considering their fellow officers, "How do you feel under _______ pulling over your teenaged daughter late at night?"
"Do you feel confident that she will be treated respectfully, fairly and lawfully?
Or, "Do you entertain a moment of doubt?"
The exploitation of authority (including lethal force) can be subtle, or overt.
I have been involved in investigations where allegations include:
*personal targeting for harassment
*pulling over a citizen for personal reasons
*pulling a weapon on a person for personal reasons
These are few and far between, statistically and in reality. The press, however, plays it in propaganda. The president of the United States has done the same, which caused it to become very popular to blame police today.
There are "bad guys" in every profession but the pressure upon police today, brought to bear by politicians, propaganda and direct lies is acute.
The psychological screening is what helps reduce incidents of police exploitation and abuse because it seeks to answer this question:
What type of person is likely to abuse his or her power and authority on a day to day basis?
A racist is one who discriminates based upon skin pigmentation, which, scientifically, has no impact upon abilities and talents. Racism puts people at risk.
If a carrier of lethal force believes in this form of arbitrary thinking, not only are a specific people at risk, but his own judgement, which carries over to other areas, may be impacted.
In short, the racist, for example, not only holds risk for the race he views as inferior, but his own ability of reason is impacted, which could impact every other area where judgement is needed.
The racist is a poor hire, not only because of the risk he poses to a specific race, but because his intellectual functioning is poor.
Therefore, if a man hates all people of a certain skin color, and he is hired to work in an area where there are no citizens of that skin color he poses a risk, still, as his own judgement is not sound.
This is arbitrary, itself, and puts the races he considers inferior at risk. He could have pity, or he could have contempt, but that is not the main concern: the main concern is that the judgement or discrimination is, itself, arbitrary.
The test is to discriminate between types.
Racism is arbitrary itself. Discrimination to be done appropriately, requires a reason for the discrimination. For example,
If a person is known to have poor impulse control, you want this known, so that you can discriminate against him and keep him from carrying lethal force.
If said person is given a job with lethal force because of race, this is also racism, and puts not only the public at risk but all officers who will be thus condemned with him.
It is, therefore, important to define racism, itself.
Race is not an ideology.
Race is not a culture.
Race is not an intellect.
Race is not an ability.
Ideologies, cultures, intellectual ability, talent, and so on, all need to be judged for appropriate placement in any job.
*What is it that the testing is looking for?
In the following article, the topic is racial discrimination for its author, but please look at the posted psychological questions at the end of the article, and the added commentary in bold type.
The psychological screening takes into consideration the very element of risk to citizens. The testing seeks to screen out antisocial behavior, emotional instability, and difficulty in personal relationships. There is something else, however, that is being sought.
Can you spot it?
If such testing is ruled to be discriminatory in race (it is intended to be discriminatory by discriminating against those who pose risk), and is discarded, the risk to the public will increase, making police officers' jobs increase in stress more than it is today, which may be unprecedented in our country.
Blacks fail Philly police psych screening more than whites
Earlier this year, African American police officers' groups contended that the Philadelphia Police Department's psychological screening was eliminating a lot of black applicants.
Data recently provided by the department suggest that the critics are right.
From 2011 through 2014, 72.5 percent of the 262 black applicants passed the psych evaluation, compared with 81.2 percent of the 823 white candidates.
Hispanic applicants fell in between, at 75 percent of 176 job-seekers. Applicants of Asian descent fared the worst, at less than 58 percent, but their overall numbers were small - just 66 applicants over the four-year period.
Experts caution that the different passing rates are not necessarily evidence of discrimination. But as police departments nationwide grapple with improving their relations with minority communities, the black officers' groups saw the lower passing rates as a clear cause for concern.
"We're still not on even ground," said David Fisher, president of the National Black Police Association's greater Philadelphia chapter.
Under U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines, if an employment screening tool results in a minority racial group being hired at less than four-fifths the rate of the majority, the burden is on the employer to show why that tool is a valid predictor of job success and not discriminatory.
For the Philadelphia police, that means black police candidates would have to pass the psych evaluation at a rate below 65 percent - four-fifths of the 81.2 passing rate for whites.
Asked about the different passing rates, police human resources director Heather McCaffrey said in an email that the department was in the process of improving its psych evaluation.
"The Police Department is constantly evaluating processes for improvement," McCaffrey wrote. "We have hired a chief psychologist who is revamping the psychological testing program in accordance with best practices. As these changes are still ongoing, I cannot go into more detail at this time."
The evaluations are performed by independent psychologists, whom the department declined to identify. In deciding whether a person is fit for duty, a psychologist weighs the candidate's answers on a true-false test of more than 500 questions along with information gleaned from a one-hour interview with the candidate.
The true-false test is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2, a widely used exam that is designed to tell if the test-taker exhibits any of a wide range of undesirable tendencies: antisocial behavior, rule-breaking, emotional instability, and difficulty in personal relationships, among others.
There is no evidence that the test is racially discriminatory, said Yossef Ben-Porath, a prominent expert on the test and a professor of psychological sciences at Kent State University in Ohio.
However, people of low socioeconomic status may fare worse on certain aspects of the test, if raised in an environment where rule-breaking and challenging authority were commonplace, said David Corey, a Lake Oswego, Ore.-based psychologist who consults for law enforcement agencies across the United States and Canada.
'The whole person'
As a result, it is inappropriate to use the true-false test by itself as a screening tool, Ben-Porath and Corey said. Some of the true-false questions probe the applicant's history of conduct problems, so a skilled psychologist would then use the interview to determine whether any such tendencies were still an issue, they said.
"It's important to look at the whole person," Corey said. "Are these a reflection of contemporary problems? Or are these a reflection of past problems?"
Applicants who fail Philadelphia's psych evaluation are allowed to try again, but they must start from scratch, repeating all other phases of the application process. The department's figures do not indicate how many, if any, of the applicants from 2011 to 2014 were repeat candidates.
The lower passing rates among black applicants indicate the need for scrutiny of the psychologists who do the interviews, said Rochelle Bilal, president of the Guardian Civic League, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of black police officers in Philadelphia.
"Who is this company? Is it diverse?" asked Bilal, whose group includes African American as well as Asian officers as members.
No appeal process
Concern about the evaluation was first raised in a July article in the Philadelphia Daily News. At that time, the department said about 57 percent of its 6,300 members were white, 33 percent were black, 8 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent Asian and other races. But since Mayor Nutter took office in 2008, blacks have accounted for 248 of 1,229 new hires as of July - just 20.2 percent of the total.
The department attributed the lower percentage of black hires in part to lower interest amid the national news about fatal encounters between police and minority civilians.
The Inquirer first asked for the data on the psych evaluation passing rates in July; the department said it responded as quickly as possible.
Applicants who fail the psych evaluation are not given a reason, and there is no appeal process, as Ayanna Holloway found out this year.
The 22-year-old successfully cleared all the other hurdles required for entrance to the police academy, including a physical exam and a reading test. But within 10 minutes of undergoing the psych evaluation in April, she got a phone call saying she did not make it.
"Some of the questions are repeated, but they switch the words around," Holloway said. "It's really tricky. There are a lot of questions about your feelings, like what would you do in this or that scenario?"
Rather than try again, Holloway opted to return to school, studying digital forensics at Chestnut Hill College.
Briannah Hawkins, another recent applicant who did not pass the psych screening, vowed to try again.
"I'm not going to let it defeat me," she said. "I don't believe a 500-question test can be the basis of whether people are going to be good cops or not."
Like many police departments, Philadelphia uses a true-false test called the MMPI-2 to evaluate the psychological fitness of officer candidates. The questions are not made public, but two unsuccessful applicants confirmed that the following, posted in an online forum, were among more than 500 questions when they took the test:
A. At times I feel like smashing things.
B. I like to read newspaper articles on crime.
C. I am sure I get a raw deal from life.
****end of article.
Now note the questions: These are just three, but they are very important for analysis.
How would you answer these three questions in a true or false setting?
1. The psych test seeks truth.
2. The psych test seeks to eliminate those who pose a risk to others.
3. Those who pose a risk to others will reveal themselves in the lengthy test questions.
Please comment on these three points and I will later update the purpose of these three questions posed, and how they impact not only the profession of law enforcement, but how they might impact many different professions.