Psychological Skills for the Police Professional
Police officer candidates need to be 21 years old for eligibility to enter a police academy, where they are then trained to interact with the public and possibly engage in life threatening activities. Once on the job, police officers must have many skills to carry out their responsibilities. Some skills require more education and training than others do—some skills are not only integral to police officers’ daily functioning, but ultimately to their very survival. Interestingly, while these skills are of the utmost importance, police professionals can be resistant to people outside the law enforcement community teaching them these skills. Some police professionals may have an “us” versus “them” perspective, which can be isolating and, perhaps, result in their lack of success. Educators have tried to develop strategies that would encourage police professionals’ receptiveness about learning new skills from “outsiders.” Martin Reiser, known as the “Father of Police Psychology,” emphasized the need for acceptance into the world of law enforcement before anyone could truly make an impact. Woods (2000) suggests that police officers will be more receptive to learning new skills from outsiders if they complete a needs assessment before taking a training class.
One area that necessitates police training and skill building is working effectively with diverse populations and special groups. Such training can occur in a classroom setting or on the job through instructional training and experiential role-plays. A role-play is a dynamic technique in which individuals put themselves into different situations and practice methods of interacting with others in those circumstances. Role-plays are effective for teaching skills because they mimic real-life events and the forensic psychology professional can provide immediate feedback to improve individual responses. Nevertheless, however forensic psychology professionals provide training, they must use a variety of methods to teach skills that will contribute to the effectiveness of police professionals.
To prepare for this Discussion:
• Review the article, “Special Report II: Women in Law Enforcement: A New Look for SWAT.” Note the information on female SWAT members and the psychological skills that they can bring to crisis situations. Consider the challenges related to forensic psychology professionals training police professionals in the psychological skills needed to work effectively with other police professionals and members of the community.
• Review the article, “Interpersonal Communication for Police Officers: Using Needs Assessment to Prepare Skeptical Trainees.” Consider the challenges that forensic psychology professionals face when training police professionals to communicate and work with individuals outside the policing community.
• Review the article, “On-Scene Mental Health Counseling Through Police Departments.” Note the information on crisis situations and mental health-based response teams. Think about the challenges that forensic psychology professionals must address when training police professionals in psychology skills.
• Select two psychological skills that would be challenging for you to teach police professionals.
• Think about why teaching these skills would be challenging, and consider how you would address these challenges.
With these thoughts in mind:
Post by Day 3 a brief description of two psychological skills that would be challenging for you to teach police professionals. Analyze why each skill would be a challenge, and explain how you would address each challenge. Support your analysis with references to the Learning Resources.
PLEASE CITE FROM: Ainsworth, P. B. (2002). Psychology and policing. Portland, OR: Willan Publishing.
Bartol, C. R., & Bartol, A. M. (2004). Introduction to forensic psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.