Psychological Testing and the Selection of Police Officers
Through a national survey of municipal police departments, this study identifies current selection and psychological assessment practices for police officers. Of the 355 police agencies invited to participate in the survey, 155 returned completed questionnaires (43%). Analyses of the extent and nature of assessment procedures revealed that the majority of police departments perform a background investigation, medical exam, interview with applicant, drug test, physical fitness exam, and polygraph test. Furthermore, more than 90% of responding agencies require a psychological evaluation of applicants, which shows a significant increase from prior surveys. Results from this study shed light on the changes and trends that have occurred in police selection in the past decade. Overall, the majority of police departments that responded used extensive and sophisticated selection measures, especially those departments serving larger cities. However, many agencies are not following public policy guidelines and psychological assessment recommendations, suggesting the need for further refinements.