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Psychological Testing for Unarmed Officers

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  • Psychological Testing for Unarmed Officers

    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???
    Last edited by aka Bull; 08-05-2006, 03:56 PM.
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." -Aristotle

  • #2
    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.

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    • #3
      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.
      Murphy was an optomist.

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      • #4
        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.
        Security: Freedom from fear; danger; safe; a feeling of well-being. (Webster's)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Mr. Security
          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.
          "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." -Aristotle

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          • #6
            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.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by mh892
              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?
              "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." -Aristotle

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mh892
                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.
                Security: Freedom from fear; danger; safe; a feeling of well-being. (Webster's)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mh892
                  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.

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                  • #10
                    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.

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                    • #11
                      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.
                      Some Kind of Commando Leader

                      "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by histfan71
                        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.
                        Security: Freedom from fear; danger; safe; a feeling of well-being. (Webster's)

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by N. A. Corbier
                          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.
                          Security: Freedom from fear; danger; safe; a feeling of well-being. (Webster's)

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                          • #14
                            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.
                            Deputy Sheriff

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                            • #15
                              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
                              I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
                              Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

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