Posts Tagged ‘fitness for duty’

Police Psychology | Thoughts on Fitness for Duty Evaluations

by Elizabeth Thompson, Psy.D.

Thompson & Associates

Guest Blogger

I received a telephone call from a Deputy Chief recently regarding the attempted suicide of an Officer that I had evaluated for Fitness for Duty over a year ago. The Officer had severe PTSD and could never return to work in spite of various interventions. I remember having talked to the Officer when I re-evaluated him after three months of therapy and discussing other options besides police work. He seemed open to the idea of change and realized that his PTSD would make it impossible for him to work as a police Officer. Now, a year later he tried to kill himself. It seems that he was never able to define himself as anything other than a police Officer and couldn’t see a life outside of the Department.

When we do Fitness for Duty Evaluations we make it clear that our client is the Department that hired us and yet we also have an obligation to the Officer whose life and livelihood is in our hands. This creates a dual relationship in spite of our making clear that the Department is our client. After all, we have created a relationship with the Officer because we are assessing that Officer for psychological fitness. In that process, we learn a great deal about the Officer which, in a sense, creates a relationship and perhaps some obligation. (more…)

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The Police Candidate Interpretive Report


I had one of the first cell phones for public consumption.  It fit in a bag.  The battery lasted minutes not hours, and it was essentially a car phone that could be moved around.  But visions of Dick Tracy’s watch and Agent 86’s shoe danced in my head, and I walked around feeling real important when I pulled out my bag phone and made a call.  How sweet those youthful delusions were!

While I was running around looking for my Agent 99, Steven Jobs was getting fired from Apple.  But Jobs had vision and timing.  He knew when something was needed and he saw sort of saw into the future.  When he was rehired, he was going to hire a Pepsi Executive for Apple and asked him “do you want to make sugared water the rest of your life or change the world.”  Jobs then designed a new operating system that became the basis for IPhone, IPods and yes, an IWatch that you could talk into, straight from the old Dick Tracy cartoons.  My old fantasies are sort of dumb given they now exist.

I sat with the Steven Jobs of Police Psychology in Orlando Florida at an IACP Police Psychologists happy hour.  He wanted to get the American Psychological Association to recognize police psychology and tie police psychology practice into research.  In my best “Pinky and the Brain” imitation, I wanted to rule the world, or at least globalize the profession.  Through the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology I started trying to define exactly what tasks were in the profession, what did police psychologists actually do?  Across the country, my friend was starting the same task, so we combined efforts.  He later spearheaded the work making police psychology recognized by the American Psychological Association.  But his recent activity may be the most poignant for the practice of police psychology.

He took an old standard test in police evaluations that was recently reconstructed, and took tons of data and put it into a computer-generated report on how police officers can be selected for police departments.  Then he made it so the computer would generate not only statistical properties for the test, but also a list of references in the back tying the research to the employee behavior.   Literally, you could say I got this result and here are the references that support the denial of a job, or the calling of this person unfit for duty.  Forensic evaluations are always supposed to be referenced but seldom are.  Imagine going into the court and having all the references at your fingertips.  And it is an entirely transparent process.

Gone are the days when a psychologist looks at the scale and gets a feel for them being a good cop or not.  Now we can directly tie scores on the MMPI-2 RF to police officer behavior.  I remember Dr. Mike Aamodt’s book with all the meta-analyses saying basically none of the tests, except at the far reaches of the spectrum lead statistically to any decision.  There is really a new world out there and someone has seen how to make it more viable.

I don’t do testing as a matter of course, so probably I have some things wrong, but the intent is correct.  Dr. Dave Corey with excellent researcher Dr. Yossef Ben-Porath has really achieved his goal.  He gave police psychology the recognition by the APA that it deserves and he is making the field which he works in, employee screening and assessment, highly attached to research.  Kudos to him and to Pearson for publishing the Police Candidate Interpretive Report (PCIR).  It’s the IWatch of our profession.

As for me, I am still trying to rule the world.  Maybe if I write a blog….

 Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP

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