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Police Psychology

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1. A brief description of two forensic psychology professional roles in law enforcement (Police). Then, analyze the impact of each role in both an internal context (i.e., within the police department) and an external context (i.e., outside the police department—neighborhoods, schools, etc.). Be specific and provide examples. Support your analysis with references to the Learning Resources.

a. Describe two roles that forensic psychology professionals have when working with police. (These roles should be different from the ones used in question 1 above.)
b. Compare the roles (similarities and differences) including how they pertain to internal and external contexts of police work. Be specific and provide examples.
c. Analyze the insights and/or conclusions you had because of this comparison.
d. Support your responses with references to the Learning Resources and the research literature.

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Solution Summary

The solution describes forensic psychology roles in law enforcement (police).

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Forensic Psychology Roles

1. Critical Police Psychology Practice - Fitness for Duty Evaluation

Dr. Laurence Miller (2006), a practicing police psychologist and author writes that "in cases where it is suspected that personal traits, disorders, or stress reactions are causing or contributing to problem behavior or substandard performance, and where the usual channels of review, coaching, counseling, and discipline have failed to effect a substantial change, a formal psychological fitness for duty (FFD) evaluation may be ordered." Miller writes about the task that an FFD police psychologist performs as the psychological health of a police officer or a law enforcement professional is essential in ensuring that they are fit for duty. From an external viewpoint, the role is deemed important - it is partly for the welfare of the police officers & co. in as much as it is part of ensuring top service to the public. From an internal viewpoint however, an FFD and the expert performing the role is mostly viewed negatively by police since being referred to it can bring on negative stigma (i.e. that the person being referred is not 'right') and this can affect organizational standing. The truth, an FFD is standard procedure and all must go through it, especially when behavior is not according to expectations.

2. Deadly Force Incidence Assessments

Much as FFD is standard practice for police psychologists, especially those who are part of a department, analysing an incident that resulted to the use of deadly force is also just as essential and standard. According to Frazier (2011), "Police officers have the discretion to use deadly force when they deem appropriate. This awesome authority sets police apart from every other profession...A police officer that applies deadly force is scrutinized administratively and criminally." This scrutiny has to do with the legality and morality of the action but also with the impact that the DFI can have on the officers and the people directly impacted by it. In Kitaeff (2011), a police officer names "Peter" admitted to turning to alcohol after a deadly force incident. He was diagnosed with PTSD as his behavior impacted his work and his private life. The role therefore is integral for the purpose of justice but also welfare and external viewpoint. Internally, it is necessary to allow the police to be able to determine the ethics and morality of the action and to look after the officers who have one way or the other taken part.

3. Critical Incident Aftermath Counsellor

PTSD is a proven state that many can enter having experienced traumatic incidences. For the police this can include deadly force incidents and other tragedies (i.e. 9-11, Katrina) where they personally experienced the tragedy and had roles and responsibilities in the frontline. Kiateff (2011) writes that critical incident counseling is a core domain practice in police psychology to help with stress intervention to support the psychological health of the entire organization. Outside of seeing officers ...

Solution provided by:
  • MPhil/PhD (IP), Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • MA, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • Certificate, Geva Ulpan (via Universita Tel Aviv)
  • BA, University of the Philippines
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