America: Cutting or Defunding the Police is Self-Destructive

My following article was published in the South Bend Tribune, South Bend In, on 8/8/20.

America: Cutting or Defunding the Police is Self-Destructive

Everyone knows there is a small minority of “bad actors” in every profession. The best correction to this fact-of-life is to upgrade selection and quality control procedures. It is essential to remove problem individuals from our professions and to prosecute them if they have broken the law.   

It is my honor to have provided psychological services to numerous first responder departments (police and fire) in Northern Indiana for over 25 years. America should adore their police and firefighters.

I have assisted police officers who have been beaten, shot, stabbed, or injured in auto accidents while on duty; officers who have had to use lethal force to defend their lives or others; who have been traumatized by seeing the horrific carnage of mass-murder or dead children; who tried to save dying fellow officers killed in the line of duty, or dying adult citizens and children. I have also provided therapy for many officers who were suffering normal emotional difficulties cause by years of work in one of the most dangerous and chronically stressful jobs in the world.

Selection processes vary across America, but the police candidates in our region undergo the most stringent selection processes. Only the smallest percent of America’s population could survive it to become a sworn police officer.

How would you do undergoing the following required assessments that our police officer candidates must pass?

Complete a very detailed application form probing virtually every aspect of your history of personal conduct.

  • Complete a personal, one on one, interview with an experienced officer.
  • Complete a police background check including legal, employment, financial, and police interviews with neighbors and names given by the candidate.
  • You are required to have a very clean and trouble-free background.
  • Pass a polygraph or voice-stress examination to prove your honesty and history of good personal conduct.
  • Pass a police panel interview during which the you are rated by officers.
  • Pass an interview with the Police Pension Board.
  • You are rank-ordered in terms of your performance during all evaluations.
  • Top rated candidates may be invited to be further evaluated as positions come available.
  • After some period of time, those who have not been offered a job will have go through the entire selection process again.
  • If you are selected for hire, you are given a “conditional offer”.

You must then pass a very intrusive psychological evaluation. The psychological evaluation includes: 1. Two psychological tests capable of detecting a wide variety of psychological disorders, as well as personality features that are incompatible with police duties; 2. You must pass a one-hour Clinical Interview with a Ph.D. Psychologist. This interview includes a review of your complete social history and probing questions based upon the findings of your psychological testing; 3. The Psychologist may evaluate your polygraph or voice-stress results and police background findings, as well as police interview results and any other departmental testing information; 4. In the event that the Psychologist is unable to give a clear “Recommend you go forward in the selection process” or “Recommend you not go forward in the selection process”, a third psychological test may be administered, a second Clinical interview may be conducted and further information about you may be requested from the Police Department in order to make a final recommendation. Or, you may simply fail the psychological assessment.

  • You then must then pass a thorough Physical Exam.
  • If you pass this lengthy and intrusive assessment process and are hired. If you have not already done so, you must then attend the State Police Academy for 15 weeks of intensive training. Graduation is not guaranteed.
  • If you graduate, you will be assigned an experienced officer called A “Field Training Officer” (FTO) to undergo 12 to 16 weeks of on-the-job training and pass this trial before you can patrol independently. Or you may fail.
  • If you pass, you may then go about your assigned duties during a one-year probationary period, during which time you may easily be fired for any reasons of concern.

America: To survive, you must not cut or defund your police departments. To survive, you must fully support your police and their perilous work to maintain law and order… for all of your citizens.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

State Licensed Health Services Provider in Psychology

President: Behavioral Psychological Family Services, P. C.

Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Indiana University South Bend

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