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aka Bull
08-05-2006, 03:53 PM
The idea of security officers receiving pre-employment psychological testing may look to be a straightforward issue. Yes, if the officer is going to be in an armed officer position and not necessary for an unarmed officer. Let’s bounce this around some.

We will, for the purposes of discussion, consider that said officers in this topic thread are NOT carrying firearms. Lets also assume the officer is sufficiently trained in any equipment they are carrying.

Now – let me define “armed” (remember no firearms will be carried). IMHO, I believe that if an officer carries any type of designed defensive equipment he should be considered armed. By “designed defensive equipment” I mean mace, OC, batons, Tasers, stunguns, etc. Some may disagree with me on this definition, but it is my belief.

An unarmed officer would have none of this. He/she may only be carrying handcuffs.

Now, under my definition of armed does an officer need to be psychologically tested? I say yes. I believe this simply because the officer is carrying equipment in which its use must be regulated appropriately under use of force doctrines. This then entails ensuring that the officer is of sound thinking, judgment, and mental character, and free from mental issues that may well cause inappropriate use.

So, with this short statement (I’m going to try and not be too long winded in this post) I am generalizing the needs to have a solid officer candidate.

Now what about an unarmed officer? Is psychological testing still required? I have thought about this, and in all honesty I haven’t arrived at a hard and fast belief. Currently I tend to lean to the yes side. Here’s why.

Unarmed officers still need to be in the category of having sound thinking, judgment and good mental character. We have read (even on this forum) and heard of officers who have taken it upon themselves to make themselves “heroes” by fighting mysterious fires, as an example. The officer, for whatever reason, has shown (again IMHO) that they lack some basic mental stability which may be the root cause for their need to be “somebody” to gain recognition. Even unarmed officers fill positions that carry important responsibilities, whether that might be working an entry gate checking for only authorized entries or conducting patrols around facilities containing high value property. Unarmed officers could be assigned to duties in monitoring centers wherein they succumb to engaging in activities that aid and abet criminal activities. Their work is an important aspect to the overall security of the client’s property too. Having a sound psychological makeup is not only reserved for those officers who are “armed” in their duties, especially if an armed officer is depending on them for his safety in detecting and warning of potential problems. Plus unarmed officers interact with the same types of people an armed officer does and may well confront the same types of issues.

It may well be that the psychological testing doesn’t need to be to the same depth as those officers in armed duties, but there still should be testing completed.

Like I said earlier, I am still fully undecided.

Thoughts anyone???

Jackhole
08-05-2006, 04:53 PM
I agree. I completed psychological testing for a unarmed (handcuffs only, I believe) security position. I found the testing to be very comprehensive, including a MMPI, Wonderlic and psychological interview.

jeff194307
08-05-2006, 05:44 PM
I agree also. In my thinking about some of the security officers that I have worked with and I shouuld add that I never have worked in an armed private security post, there are a lot of folks out there working who do not posses the mental ability to properly do the assigned job in a safe and efficient manner. This is especially true of those who work in a post that is open to the general public such as retail establishments, schools, shopping malls, hotels and schools.
I don't think it is too critical in the area of industrial security because there you have controlled entry. But yes, this industry should have some type of mental screening.

Mr. Security
08-05-2006, 06:03 PM
Yes, I think unarmed officers should be tested. I only have experience with the MMPI. Based on some of the guards that passed, I'm not sure that it works that well.

I liked the hiring process that I underwent before I was hired as a dispatcher. It took a month to complete, required written and oral testing, 1 hour unannounced interview at my home w/ a police investigator, medical examination, fingerprinting, mug shots, employer checks, all high school records, accounting school grade/test transcripts, state and federal criminal background checks, DMV check, FAA check, FCC check, and all my references where interviewed as well.

This is not going to happen in the unarmed security industry, but I'll welcome any additional screening that the government mandates.

aka Bull
08-05-2006, 07:08 PM
Yes, I think unarmed officers should be tested. I only have experience with the MMPI. Based on some of the guards that passed, I'm not sure that it works that well.

I liked the hiring process that I underwent before I was hired as a dispatcher. It took a month to complete, required written and oral testing, 1 hour unannounced interview at my home w/ a police investigator, medical examination, fingerprinting, mug shots, employer checks, all high school records, accounting school grade/test transcripts, state and federal criminal background checks, DMV check, FAA check, FCC check, and all my references where interviewed as well.

This is not going to happen in the unarmed security industry, but I'll welcome any additional screening that the government mandates.

I agree with the throughness of the testing and checking you underwent for that job. I know it won't catch everybody, but it will weed out the majority of unfit candidates - and that's a good thing too.

Companies don't want to do in-depth testing for a variety of reasons I can think of. That will only happen when they are forced to, like through legislation.

mh892
08-05-2006, 10:03 PM
Dear Lord. This is a good time to start a TV Series called The REAL Fear Factor.

In all the previous posts please replace the word Security Officer/Guard with, truck driver, taxi driver, school teacher, ditch digger, propane delivery driver, post hole digger, lineman, plumber, electrician, solder, airman, assembly line worker, heavy equipment operator. cetra, cetra, cetra. We're all simply people doing a job.

Psycological exams, credit checks, cetra, cetra, cetra for unarmed Guards???? I agree with a simple criminal background and drivers license check for obvious reasons. There is such a thing as going overboard.

aka Bull
08-05-2006, 10:05 PM
Psycological exams, credit checks, cetra, cetra, cetra for unarmed Guards???? I agree with a simple criminal background and drivers license check for obvious reasons. There is such a thing as going overboard.

Would you elaborate on why you feel it is going overboard?

Mr. Security
08-05-2006, 10:23 PM
Dear Lord. This is a good time to start a TV Series called The REAL Fear Factor.

In all the previous posts please replace the word Security Officer/Guard with, truck driver, taxi driver, school teacher, ditch digger, propane delivery driver, post hole digger, lineman, plumber, electrician, solder, airman, assembly line worker, heavy equipment operator. cetra, cetra, cetra. We're all simply people doing a job.

Psycological exams, credit checks, cetra, cetra, cetra for unarmed Guards???? I agree with a simple criminal background and drivers license check for obvious reasons. There is such a thing as going overboard.

Credit checks are especially important for guards who are posted at sites where cash or merchandise is under their watch. You don't put a man on a diet behind a bakery counter for obvious reasons. The same is true w/ individuals who are having financial problems. The temptation to steal is greater. Incidentally, that's why most banks run credit checks on their tellers. ;)

Jackhole
08-05-2006, 11:49 PM
We're all simply people doing a job.
You're correct. A job that often puts us at a higher responsibility level than most other jobs and with more chances to compromise our integrity.

histfan71
08-06-2006, 03:56 AM
Ok Bull, you have swayed me over to your line of thinking regarding psych tests for unarmed guards. They should have some sort of psych screening, but not a in-depth as a guard who carries deadly weapons. Perhaps unarmed guards should only be given an MMPI test, while guards armed with deadly weapons (I would not consider OC and/or mace a deadly weapon) would get an MMPI plus an interview with a psychologist.

N. A. Corbier
08-06-2006, 01:23 PM
Just a note. Just about everything, now days, requires you undergo a Consumer Credit File check. The kid making 7 an hour at Wal-Mart was put through the ringer by their Human Resources department. He had his credit file pulled. He had a background check performed. he was most likely looked up by ChoicePoint or another integrated background/credit check company that combines vast amounts of information into a simple "yes/no" recomendation.

I am under the impression that unarmed guards do require some sort of psychological assessment. For the reasons listed above. You are put in a position of trust by the company. The client puts the company in a position of trust. You may be called upon to perform heroic acts. These heroic acts may be as simple as calling 911 when the entire factory is burning to the ground. Some people may freak out so badly they forget to call 911.

I know this, because I had to stand a post after a man ran shrieking from his post because of a fire at the plant. Did not call 911, did nothing but wrote FIRE!!!! in the log and ran.

Forget saving old ladies from robbers. Make sure the person is suitable for firewatch and O&R.

Mr. Security
08-06-2006, 04:21 PM
Ok Bull, you have swayed me over to your line of thinking regarding psych tests for unarmed guards. They should have some sort of psych screening, but not a in-depth as a guard who carries deadly weapons. Perhaps unarmed guards should only be given an MMPI test, while guards armed with deadly weapons (I would not consider OC and/or mace a deadly weapon) would get an MMPI plus an interview with a psychologist.

Absolutely. An interview allows the psychologist or psychiatrist to observe body language, tone of voice, stress reaction, (after all, who likes seeing a shrink - no offense intended) and to tailor viewpoint questions in a manner that helps to reveal a persons true feelings/beliefs.

Mr. Security
08-06-2006, 04:26 PM
Just a note. Just about everything, now days, requires you undergo a Consumer Credit File check. The kid making 7 an hour at Wal-Mart was put through the ringer by their Human Resources department. He had his credit file pulled. He had a background check performed. he was most likely looked up by ChoicePoint or another integrated background/credit check company that combines vast amounts of information into a simple "yes/no" recomendation.

I am under the impression that unarmed guards do require some sort of psychological assessment. For the reasons listed above. You are put in a position of trust by the company. The client puts the company in a position of trust. You may be called upon to perform heroic acts. These heroic acts may be as simple as calling 911 when the entire factory is burning to the ground. Some people may freak out so badly they forget to call 911.

I know this, because I had to stand a post after a man ran shrieking from his post because of a fire at the plant. Did not call 911, did nothing but wrote FIRE!!!! in the log and ran.
Forget saving old ladies from robbers. Make sure the person is suitable for firewatch and O&R.

It can happen. I heard about a new dispatcher who toned out the FD and yelled into the mike: "FIRE; FIRE!" He didn't tell them where. :eek: :D

Mall Director
08-06-2006, 05:48 PM
I agree with it 100%. My educational background is in Psychology, and I use alot of what I earned my degrees in to determine the hiring of new personnel. I am sorry to say, but in this day and age, incompetant or mentally unfit individuals are more of a liability then anything else. Recovering from the damage of an unfit Officer is nearly impossible, and correctable with only time. The damage has been done, whether physical or by image, of a unfit officer operating. Our fields are becoming more technical, advanced, and demanding than before, especially post 9-11.

HotelSecurity
08-06-2006, 06:42 PM
I've also heard horror stories about 9-1-1. When it first was used they would say call 9-11. I've heard stories where people in a panic have dialed 9 then stopped because they could not find the "11" on their phone :eek:

The Lord of the Keys
08-09-2006, 09:36 AM
I'd like to make a couple of comments here. Guardsmark does a psch test on perspective employees and its not worth the paper its written on. I've seen alot of officers weeded out after they are hired because they just were not fit for this work, besides any test that asks if you hear voices and then says that there are no wrong answers seems strange to me.
I'd also like to comment on what Mr. Security said about credit checks. I'm strongly opposed to them. After I was married we ran into a number of financial problems including a premature birth with no insurance. Without going into more detail our credit was destroyed. Being a Security Officer means being poor and I've had no way to dig out of this hole. Now I've been doing Security for 6 years and I've worked around items of value and around confidential material and certainly if anyone is in a position to steal it is security. Never have I had the least temptation to do so yet I've seen client employees getting caught for theft all the time and many of them made a very good paycheck. It is not being poor that makes a person dishonest.
What I want to say is this, I don't want to be prevented from getting a better paying position that might also me to work my way out of a bad credit situation because of my poor credit and I don't like being told that poverty makes me untrustworthy.

N. A. Corbier
08-09-2006, 10:53 AM
Keep your job. Seriously. Having bad credit is a disqualifer for most national service jobs. If you don't have a professional or "skilled trade" to fall back on, you're basically done.

The kid at Wal-Mart or the retiree has good or no credit. They pass a consumer credit file check. Its getting more and more that a consumer credit file check is becoming standard operating procedure for many unskilled jobs these days.

Keep in mind that your "creditworthiness" is also more an indication of how profitable you are to a creditor, and not how well you pay your bills.

Apartment complexes are getting onto the bandwagon by running CCFCs as well. I remember a few years ago, the background check people were starting to wonder if they should create a new system that doesn't revolve around the FICO score because of the insane numbers of people with bad credit.

The reason everyone has "bad credit" is because they're not profitable to credit lending companies. My credit scores goes drastically down when my credit card balance is too low (not profitable) or too high (keeps to much debt).

N. A. Corbier
08-09-2006, 10:59 AM
Oh, yeah... Most of the psychological tests I've seen, especially the one that Florida companies give under state law to armed security personnel, are scantron sheets. Some are created specifically for the security industry, and have such questions like:

A man is robbing a jewlery store. Would you shoot him?
(a) Yes (b) No

Others are basically the same repeditive questions, about 25-50, asked 6-8 different ways in a 250-500 question test battery designed to fool you into giving "misleading" or "unsure" answers if you're trying to fool it.

I've seen the results of those tests before, as a requirement for employment, and have noted some of the strange answers that the tests come up with after only 150 questions. Things as:

Warning: Subject has overt suicidal tendancies.
Questions Answered
Have you tried to commit suicide in the past year? YES
Have you thought about hurting yourself in the past year? YES
Suggestion: Refer subject for further evaluation

Unless your giving a full battery such as the MMPI-II/LE (Law Enforcement Question Battery) or DSM/IV Diagnostic Battery... Its just an insurance gimmick.

histfan71
08-09-2006, 11:03 AM
I don't want to be prevented from getting a better paying position that might also me to work my way out of a bad credit situation because of my poor credit and I don't like being told that poverty makes me untrustworthy.

It is not actually the level of indebtedness or poverty a police and/or security background investigator is interested in; although, they will take note of it. It is how you have handled your debt that is relevant to a position of trust and responsibility.

That's because, generally speaking, a person who consistently pays their bills on time shows stability and maturity, and also good judgment. A person who always pays late, if he pays at all, demonstrates the opposite qualities. Qualities that are directly related to being able to handle police and security work. Yes, I know that there are exceptions to this rule (just like everything in life), but this theory still holds most of its water.

At one point in my life I was in significant debt. I had a high monthly rent payment (housing costs in SoCal are outrageous!), a car loan, my auto insurance premium was pretty high, a student loan, and three credit cards that were nearly maxed out. But my high indebtedness did not prevent me from getting two police jobs and a Secret security clearance, because I was always careful to make at least the minimum payment by the due date, so my credit score is pretty good. Fortunately now that I am on Kwaj I have been able to reduce my debt significantly. I have been able to pay my car loan off in full, and since no personal vehicles are allowed on Kwaj I was able to cancel my car insurance, except for theft coverage. The Army provides housing so I do not have to pay rent. I was able to pay down my credit cards, but I am still going to have my student loan for a few more years, since I am going back to school starting a Master's Degree program next month!

Mr. Security
08-12-2006, 09:32 AM
.......
I'd also like to comment on what Mr. Security said about credit checks. I'm strongly opposed to them.

...............and I don't like being told that poverty makes me untrustworthy.

Lord: I know it isn't always fair or even accurate. Nevertheless, credit checks will remain an integral part of any background check. Companies like to profile groups instead of handling individuals on a case-by-case basis.

Take the insurance industry. Your rate is determined by a number of factors, such as age, driving history, type of vehicle, and the like. You may be a safe driver at 18, but you are still going to pay a higher rate because of your youth and inexperience. Can we say that EVERY 18 year old has the same risk of being involved in an accident? No. Still, you are likely to be lumped in w/ other individuals in that age bracket. Insurance companies may further refine their selection by looking at grade point average and so forth, but expect a higher rate.

No one likes to be discriminated against and injustice is even harder to take. Unfortunately, in a dollar driven market this is the name of the "game." :(

Mr. Security
08-12-2006, 09:35 AM
How many think that testing should be done on an annual basis for those who are armed? I do. A person may start out right, but the demands of the job (or personal problems) may get to them over time.

histfan71
08-12-2006, 11:08 AM
How many think that testing should be done on an annual basis for those who are armed? I do. A person may start out right, but the demands of the job (or personal problems) may get to them over time.

I think so too, yearly is a good time frame. I also think that, much like people who hold government security clearances, cops and security guards should have their backgrounds re-investigated every five years. As you say, people's situations change over time.

aka Bull
08-12-2006, 11:52 AM
Redoing a psych exam on armed officers wouldn't hurt. The timing might be longer though. I would suggest every other year. The cost for larger departments on an annual basis is a factor in my thinking. I would not argue having it redone sooner if there were indications of behaviorial changes (something good supervisors should be on the lookout for as a part of their duties in supervision).

You could do some basic rechecks to look for indicators each year, for instance annual credit checks to determine if an officer's fiscal lifestyle has changed dramatically (with the knowledge and consent of the officer - which would also be a condition upon hiring).

Doing a complete background check every five years would be reasonable as well.

The first line in finding job stress, or behaviorial changes though lies with line supervision.

Though why only accomplish this with armed officers? Are we saying then that unarmed positions are less likely to succumb to behaviors which may make them do dumb things (like the post on the idiot impersonating a police officer)?

Mr. Security
08-12-2006, 12:16 PM
........
Though why only accomplish this with armed officers? Are we saying then that unarmed positions are less likely to succumb to behaviors which may make them do dumb things (like the post on the idiot impersonating a police officer)?

It wouldn't hurt to have all officers tested. However, I think the majority of posts favored psych. interviews for armed officers and written tests (MMPI, etc.) for unarmed officers. My comment refers to an actual interview w/ a psychologist/psychiatrist, something that companies who primarily use unarmed officers would likely oppose.

histfan71
08-12-2006, 12:58 PM
The background re-investigation would be for all, armed and unarmed.

Regarding psych tests, I can see re-testing unarmed guards every 2-5 years. They have a lesser capability of causing harm. But I think that armed guards (cops too) should be re-tested yearly. Maybe not the entire battery of testing they had to go through to be hired, but an interview with a psychologist at a minimum.

aka Bull
08-12-2006, 08:07 PM
It wouldn't hurt to have all officers tested. However, I think the majority of posts favored psych. interviews for armed officers and written tests (MMPI, etc.) for unarmed officers. My comment refers to an actual interview w/ a psychologist/psychiatrist, something that companies who primarily use unarmed officers would likely oppose.

Ok. That's clarified. I agree. I also agree companies would likely oppose seeing the doc due to costs.

Sorry, I was a bit confused.:o

aka Bull
08-12-2006, 08:11 PM
The background re-investigation would be for all, armed and unarmed.

Regarding psych tests, I can see re-testing unarmed guards every 2-5 years. They have a lesser capability of causing harm. But I think that armed guards (cops too) should be re-tested yearly. Maybe not the entire battery of testing they had to go through to be hired, but an interview with a psychologist at a minimum.

You make a good point. I could see having the restesting for armed being a smaller battery testing looking specifically for issues that may come to be detrimental in the officer's behavior.

And I would agree that there should be full testing for cause, should the agency come to an objectively based reason the officer should undergo full re-evaluation.

Mr. Security
08-12-2006, 08:14 PM
Ok. That's clarified. I agree. I also agree companies would likely oppose seeing the doc due to costs.

Sorry, I was a bit confused.:o

No biggie. :)