Do police departments evaluate cops for problems of character?

Yesterday, in my post about psychological testing for police candidates, I asked if any  psychologist could offer an opinion about the possibilities of thorough psychological testing in the New York Police Department.

I got an even more specific response than I expected from Melissa, a clinical psychologist, who happens to be family. Until I read this, I hadn’t known she had some experience with the NYPD.

Many moons ago I applied and was offered a job at the police department to assess cops. I turned the job down because I realized during the interview process that they were not actually wanting a valid, discriminating or truthful evaluation. They wanted most people to pass and I would probably be fired pretty quickly if I didn’t give them what they wanted.

After working at Rikers it confirmed my belief that there would be few people applying to be cops that would be qualified on many levels. AND there would be no way the department would fund a panel of 3 psychologists to make a determination.

The reality of who they accept is really scary. I think they need a “cop college”… 4 year degree providing gun training for 4 years along with courses in psychology, conflict resolution, bias, communication… I could go on about the curriculum but you get the point. Hope I’ve addressed your concerns. 

She has; more than that, she confirmed what I learned about how NYPD interacts with its psychologists when a cop’s racism causes him to murder an innocent person.

That story will be next, as soon as I can pull myself together to tell you about the time I stood at our office copier crying over a small photograph of a Black man in a Navy uniform, his arms stretched out in a playful pose, with the most beautiful huge smile.


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