Editorial: Are you fit to serve?

The tragic loss of Eric Garner, whose death came at the hands of a police officer who utilized a chokehold that was a clear violation of protocol, and the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, placed the overall police force of the U.S under loads of media scrutiny and judgement. These are just a few of the many cases that have been considered and labeled as police misconduct, and it should come as no surprise that many individuals have lost faith in the very men and women who have sworn to protect them. These events raise important questions: How are some of these people allowed to carry deadly weapons? Did they not get psychologically evaluated beforehand?

There is no doubt that the job of being a police officer is one of immense stress. Having to diffuse countless negative situations, which oftentimes can pose as both dangerous and life threatening while following a stringent set of rules and regulations, will obviously lead to high levels of stress and anxiety. But it is that aspect that adds validity to the fact that this job may not be for every John Q. Taxpayer that wants to collect a generous pension and hefty benefits. Or even worse, some power hungry idiot that would not be able to tell his shoe from a sidearm.

While there are many facets as to how something may go particularly wrong during a police officer’s career, the focus of this particular editorial is that of the processes of psychological evaluation prospective police officers have to go through during the initial hiring process.

While psychological screenings are conducted in most, if not all, of the precincts before a new officer is added to the roster, each hiring agency has a variation of the test provided, tailored based on a general consensus. This raises some concern: A small town’s psychological requirements could be a bit more lenient than a much larger precinct’s test.

In some precincts, psychological evaluators are being hired based solely on cost not experience. Hiring cheap evaluators obviously affects the hiring process of the rookie officers. Taking that into consideration, with the fact that not all precincts have the cash flow to hire a top end psychologist, it comes as no surprise that some people who pass the psych exam are actually unfit to serve.

For such a significant job there should definitely be quality control with how the process is handled. No expense should be overlooked during the process of hiring an officer of the law. And there should not be any complaints from the people when it comes to taxes on such a matter. If you want a police force you can wholeheartedly put your trust in, you’re going to have to pay the price. Either that or we allow the government to step in and mandate the process.

There are a myriad of ways you can beget change within the system. First of all, you can conduct research on the subject matter yourself. Once well informed you can address the proper channels with the hopes to change a system which seems to have lost the faith of the people.

We would like to thank Robert Dean, Skyline’s chief public safety officer, for offering some extra insight on the inner workings of the psychological testing that takes place in regards to the hiring of police officers throughout the country.

Update: this article has been replaced with the newest version available. 11:33 p.m. 2/27/2015