Selection and Development

The initial step in the selection process is recruitment. In recruiting potential applicants, the police image often displayed in advertising is one of a positive self-image. Departments can use the Law Enforcement Recruitment Toolkit to navigate the challenges they face and provide guidance in recruitment efforts. This may not be an accurate depiction of reality. Once the recruit discovers this, the recruit may become disenchanted with policing. The police department must recognize that different recruitment strategies may be necessary. It was discovered that the top reasons for both males and females entering policing were to help people and job security. Ethnic groups may differ in their reasons for entering policing.

The next step in the process is selection. The selection processes must be valid and reliable. In making the selections, the department must also be aware of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Title VII prohibits discrimination in the workplace. The case of Griggs v. Duke Power Company held that an employer’s requirement of a high school diploma and two standardized written tests for a position disqualified a higher percentage of blacks than whites and could not be shown to be related to job performance.

The case of Albemarle Paper Company v. Moody stated that selection and promotional exams must be shown to be related to job performance. In the case of Davis v. City of Dallas, the Court upheld the Dallas Police Department’s requirement of 45 college credits. Bona fide occupational qualifications are permissible under Title VII, even though it may exclude members of a protected group.

Police agencies are not permitted to have age restrictions and height and weight requirements, other than proportional. Standards related to vision have relaxed over the years although departments still maintain certain vision requirements. Physical agility and strength tests are not used by all departments. In many cases, the standards required on these tests are not related to job standards and may be seen as discriminatory. Further, health-based screening is done to examine the general physical fitness that may have an impact on the employee levels of physical and mental health. Some departments have residency requirements. The recruit must either live in the area or move to the area within a certain time. Those that oppose residency requirements cite that the pool of applicants is restricted because the best candidates may not live in the area.

As part of the selection process, the applicant may be subjected to a background investigation. These investigations appear to be a good indicator of future police behavior. The investigation will look for any previous criminal history and/or drug use. The presence of criminal record does not automatically exclude a potential candidate. Previous drug use does not automatically exclude the applicant either but there is case law supporting departmental standards concerning drug use.

The applicant may also be subjected to a polygraph examination. Some jurisdictions will not use the polygraph because of the false positives that may result. More departments have gone to psychological testing of the applicants. There has been controversy surrounding this practice. Criticism centers on the research that indicates the exams are racially biased or not job related. Part of the selection process may involve a written examination. It appears that these examinations test the educational level of the applicants and may discriminate against minorities. Part of the process may also include an oral interview.

Another issue in the development of the recruit is the instructional method. Pedagogy is a one-way delivery of knowledge whereas andragogy is a mutual involvement of both instructor and student in the learning process. It appears that andragogy would be better suited for topics related to community policing. Even though andragogy may improve the learning experience, it may be difficult to implement.

The course content of the training should be based upon what an officer does on a daily basis. Since policing is constantly changing, the course curriculum should respond accordingly. The hours spent on the different topics may change with changes in procedures and laws. New topics may be added to the curriculum or more hours added to existing topics. Once the classroom training is completed, the recruit enters the field. The recruit is assigned to a field training officer for a determined amount of time. The field training officer is one that has experience and will work with the recruit directly. The San Jose Model has been used as a guide for field training officers, but studies reveal that it does not work that well with community policing.

In the police officer training program, (PTO) the Reno model is a more recent type of field training program. The focus is on the principles and concepts of community policing. The model also utilizes andragogical learning methods. Greater emphasis is placed on problem-solving, communications, conflict resolution, and ethics. While there is little research on the Reno model, reports on PTO programs have been positive.

Upon completion of the field training, the new officer begins his or her career path. With more time on the job, the officer will continue with training. This is necessary to stay current with the changes in the laws and procedures. This is covered under in-service training. The officer may also be involved in specialized training that will prepare the officer for different jobs throughout the department. The officer may also be interested in supervisory training in preparation for management and promotion. Assessment centers attempt to measure a candidate’s potential for a particular managerial position.