There are quite a few reasons why hiring a specialist trained in police psychology is important to the success of your organization. Here are three of the most significant.
Having a competent, qualified police psychologist on staff can better protect the safety of your personnel and community. Why? For the simple reason that because they have an academic background in both psychology and police psychology, they are trained to recognize danger signs that a non-specialist may not; simply put, their professional insights lead to more competent practice.
Having a competent police psychologist on staff can provide assistance in the areas of risk management and liability mitigation. This becomes most prominent proactively, such as in the case of psychological assessment. They advise and consult with agencies regarding practice that is consistent with industry standards and can even consult in how departmental policy is written. In addition, a police psychologist can research and comprehend law enforcement and psychological studies, design and conduct applied research, develop program evaluation methodologies to assess both effectiveness and return on investment, and create targeted interventions to reduce an agency’s risk for litigation.
Having a competent police psychologist on staff can help boost personnel wellness, from reducing stress and improving workplace health to lowering turnover and burnout rates — all of which can save the department money. Above all, however, the police psychologist, who is familiar with the cultural elements and the legitimate experiences of officers, can assist in breaking down the barriers in understanding how these experiences can have impact on their psyche. For example, a police psychologist can help train officers and their families to handle the emotional “spillover” from work to home and manage a crisis when it arises. The police psychologist facilitates an openness to address issues through understanding; a general psychologist may just reinforce the “they don’t get me and no way I’m going to open up to them” mentality. A trained specialist can identify and help prevent the behaviors and problems unique to law enforcement, such as emotionally processing some of the gruesome experiences the officer has experienced, understanding healthy relationship dynamics, exploring parenting challenges, and developing emotional intelligence and personal insight.
Why this matters to you
Ensuring that any organization’s resources are appropriate is critical; this is especially true when it comes to an agency providing public safety. The challenges facing law enforcement officers continue to intensify and diversify. Working with a psychologist who is specially trained and uniquely qualified to meet the needs of law enforcement is a necessary first step to providing protection (for personnel and the public), maximizing staff performance, minimizing liability, and improving the quality of your department.