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Policing Recuritment and Application

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This analysis will look at two important elements used as part of the police selection process. For this analysis, the two requirements reviewed will be psychological and personality assessment as a requirements for recruitment as well as tertiary education. These two requirements will be reviewed through current literature. It is the aim of this analysis to review these requirements and offer recommendations to the Commissioner with regards to removing or keeping these requirements and what effect on increasing applicant numbers this will have.

For psychological and personality assessment, this analysis will look at the NEO Personality Inventory-Revised or NEO PI-R assessment tools as this has been shown to be widely used by various law enforcement authorities around the world.

For education, this analysis will look at studies performed by Roy Roberg and Scott Bonn (2004), Tim Prenzler, Kristy Martin and Rick Sarre (2009), Jason Rydberg and William Terrill (2010) as well as recommendations to police restructuring as a result of the Fitzgerald Inquiry (1989) QLD

This analysis will look at what psychological assessment of police recruits determines as desirable traits essential to the process. This analysis will then look as education in relation to the work of a police officers, and review how higher education can be valuable to the police recruiting process.

Finally, this analysis will determine that both of the above-mentioned elements are valuable to the police recruitment process. However, the element of psychological assessment is an essential tool for police recruitment and is recommended that it not be removed from the current process and the risk posed to the police department if this was removed is too great and outweighs the benefits of increasing applicant numbers. Tertiary education has been shown to be desirable but not empirically studied and therefore has been recommended to be removed to increase applicant numbers.


Psychological and personality assessment in the recruiting process has been identified as an important element in choosing the right applicants for the job. There are numerous models for assessing psychological and personality traits, however for this analysis the NEO PI-R assessment model will be used as this model is most widely used and referred to in the literature.

The NEO PI-R measures the 5-factor model of personality; also known as the Big Five. These personality facets are Neuroticism, Extraversion, and Openness to Experiences, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness (Detrick, Chibnall, 2006). This assessment tool is designed to recognise if the individual is prone to emotional issues, how they project their energy in the public world, their communication and sympathy towards others as well as their persistence and control in goal directed action. (Detrick et al., 2006). With the increasing shift towards proactive and community orienting policing having the ability to identify positive personality traits in police recruits has become one of the major factors in choosing applicants.

In the literature review that was used for this analysis it was shown that personality traits considered desirable for police recruits to possess were Emotional Stability and Conscientiousness (Arrigo, Claussen, 2003; Detrick et al., 2006; Ho, 2001). These attributes have been shown correlate with motivation and job performance, emphasising the ability to control emotional reactions to intense situations and having the self-discipline and character to do a task well. Although the other traits are relevant to the recruitment process all three studies (Arrigo et al., 2003; Detrick et al., 2006; Ho, 2001) have placed more importance on Emotional Stability and Conscientiousness, as traits essential for police work. Police officers require a certain level of compassion and understanding in order to deal with different members of the public. If a police officer were to display too much compassion or have indicators that are believed to be linked to psychological distress, this would not be beneficial to the public as police need to keep a clear objective mind set at all times in order to maintain a professional and unbiased opinion.


The debate over the need for a tertiary education for recruitment into the police forces has been a high discussion point for nearly a century (Roberg, Bonn, 2004) In present society the expanding complexity of the police role and the transition to community policing, this question is more necessary than ever. The demand of a high school certificate to enter the field of policing occurred at a time when most of the population failed to complete high school. A demand of a high school education truly identified people with an above average level of education.

Police Chief August Vollmer in Berkeley, California started this debate in the 1900s, when he instigated a training regime for new recruits that included the technology of police as well as crime prevention techniques using the aspects of psychology and sociology of the crime (Roberg et al., 2004). From this radical take on police recruitment and training, Vollmer became known as the father of modern policing as he required his officers to attend classes at the University of California and designed specific courses that would enhance their formal education.

Following this lead, many other programs have been designed emphasising police education in major universities and technical colleges. In a study conducted in 2009 by Tim Prenzler, Kirsty Martin and Rick Sarre, (Prenzler, Martin & Sarre, 2010) it was identified that within Australian Universities and TAFE institutions there were 456 policing and security programs and courses available. The drive behind such a variety of educational programs available for the policing sector have come from various major reviews and inquiries into the police and corruption as well as general practices.

The Fitzgerald Inquiry 1989 into the practices and corruption of the Queensland Police argued for more formal education for recruits. As it was deemed that the more education police officers held, the better they were able to cope with the complexities of their role. Through the increased change in technology and a shift in public perception of proactive



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