Book Review: A Handbook for Psychological Fitness-For-Duty Evaluations in Law Enforcement

Posted: January 22, 2015 in Books
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Book review of “A Handbook for Psychological Fitness-for-Duty Evaluations in Law Enforcement.”

Cary Rostow asked me to review his book and I thought “no problem.”  It was a supposedly a Handbook on Fitness for Duty Examinations.  So I figured it would be a short, little boring thing with a lot of statistics, but I will slog through it and write something inane up for the membership.  Now I know realize this book is a terrible task.  It is about the most thorough treatise on a subject I could ever imagine.  Rostow and Davis went into such painstaking detail to cover every possible area on the subject of Fitness for Duty Examinations and then some.  I found myself getting angry at them that I had to read so much, and at the same time they brought the subject to life in a way that few could.  I had to read large sections at a time because I couldn’t put it down.  Handbook my arse – a handbook is supposed to be a short little “how to” thing that comes with your fancy-dansy cappuccino maker.  What kind of time do they think I have for these book reviews?

For example, the first section on the history of policing and police psychology.  Why would anyone include something like this in a handbook on Fitness for Duty Examinations?  It was fascinating to hear about the police movements in this country and the different stages of police reform.  And about police psychology and….okay, I couldn’t put it down!  But why include something so interesting in a book intended to be dry and hard to read.  I just don’t understand it.  Have they no respect for how busy I am?

They talk about developing a Fitness for Duty System, and making decision on how a Fitness for Duty will be performed.  They give the reasons why to do a Fitness for Duty and the misuses.  They go through the reasons for a fitness for duty examination, the types of recommendations, types of test, predictive validity – the stuff of handbooks, except give this one 5 stars for thoroughness in each of these areas.  Then they get really interesting again going into the fitness for duty in forensic situations such as dealing with HIPAA laws, expert witnessing, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act and the American with Disabilities Act.  These chapters are really good and bring the understanding about what employment law is all about.  Throughout the book they give examples of Fitness for Duty cases that will make you read them a couple of times because you have to think about them.  I didn’t want to think reading a handbook, but this book really got me.  Attach the “whosit” to the “whatsit,” turn button “A” and steam the milk for the cappuccino. That’s what I wanted.  What is this thinking stuff?

But the area where they shine the most is in the conclusions and reflections.  It is a short little chapter at the end, but it is loaded with thought provoking information.  It is really a great overview of future directions with the insight of people at the top of the field.

So, if you want to ruin about 3 days of your life reading a “handbook” that reads surprisingly interesting, pick up A Handbook for Psychological Fitness for Duty Examinations in Law Enforcement by Cary D. Rostow, Ph.D. and Robert D. Davis, Ph.D.  The publisher is The Hawthorne Press but it should be published by Gideon and sit in every “hotel room” where psychologists practice.

I think I’ll go make a cappuccino now!

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Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP

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