scientists, specifically, police psychologists,
play an integral role in law enforcement today.
Large metropolitan law enforcement agencies such
as the Dallas, Boston, San Diego and Los Angeles
Police Departments, employ behavioral scientists
in the capacity of police psychologists, organizational
development and human factors/human performance
consultants (Davis, 1995; Reiser, 1972a). Many
behavioral scientists who possess specialized
training beyond traditional clinical training,
can effectively assist law enforcement management
and related personnel to enhance their day-to-day
operations and the performance of departments
The ways in which police psychologists or behavioral
scientists are used in modern law enforcement
departments today are diverse. For example, police
psychologists are typically involved with individual
and group consultation, officer candidate assessment
and evaluation, police officer selection, hostage
negotiation, stress management, counseling of
police officers and their families (Davis, 1993;
Depue, 1979; Reiser, 1972b). Additionally, other
duties include police management and supervisory
training, police academy teaching and instruction,
research and development, police or community
critical incident debriefing, urban crime prevention
programs, advanced officer training, diagnosing
and solving organizational, managerial or supervisory
problems, the implementation of human resource
development programs, employee assistance programs
(EAP'S), and "burn-out" prevention programs.
Taken together, these efforts are ultimately directed
at planning for the departments' overall future
growth and, for the wellness of its personnel
who operate within it (Hargrave & Berner,
Typically, police psychologists work for departments
in one of two ways - they provide services, consultation
and training as an "in-house" service
(i.e., as an actual department staff member) or
they serve as an outside consultant who provides
services under contract department wide. There
are advantages as well as limitations to both,
however, both arrangements have merit, and should
be set up according to agency size, number of
personnel, specialized needs, and budgets of each
department and division in mind. Regardless of
the arrangement, the police psychologist should
generally be connected to the highest level of
the department's administrative and managerial
structure. When possible, the psychologist should
work in close proximity to the Chief of Police
for the purposes of "direct line" consultation
and communication (Lefkowitz, 1977).
The issue of confidentiality
is very important for the police psychologist
who works with sworn or support personnel, especially
when services such as psychotherapy, counseling,
assessment, fitness-for-duty evaluation, and research
are conducted (Davis, 1993). Depending on the
issue or referral question, confidentiality can
be complete, limited, restricted, or open and
up-front. This is addressed with the officer or
employee seeking or being referred for psychological
services once contact with a supervisor or commanding
officer is made. A non-restrictive disclosure
or breach of confidentiality occurs when a question
of officer dangerousness or an issue involving
fitness-for-duty is of major concern (Davis, 1995;
Somodeville, 1978; Reiser, 1972).
Victimization, misuse or abuse of police powers
and officer misconduct are areas typically open
and "up-front" in terms of disclosure
that are not protected by confidentiality. Areas
involving complete confidentiality include the
direct counseling and treatment of officers, their
families, and various civilian personnel job-related
problems. Special consideration is given when
there is a question of privileged communication
between the police psychologist, employee, and
a third party (i.e., supervisor or family member)
Ideally, when the police psychologist is a contract
provider, their office is located physically outside
of the department to facilitate privacy and confidentiality.
If the police psychologist is an "in-house"
service provider, department representative or
an extension of the department, their office should
be secluded enough to promote utilization of services,
confidentiality, and employee receptability (Somodeville,
1978; Reiser, 1972).
In a unique "forensic"
role utilized by some departments, the expertise
of the police psychologist plays an important
part as an objective scientist in major case consultation
or when a crime investigation is underway. This
may especially be the case when the crime committed
by the perpetrator or offender is a "stranger
to stranger" crime or in cases where the
crime seemed senseless, sexually sadistic and
motiveless or when the perpetrator is unknown
and cannot be identified (Davis, 1995).
Requests for psychological assistance may come
from specific investigative units within the department
such as the homicide unit, sex crimes unit or
"violent crimes committed against persons"
division for the purposes of "criminal investigative
analysis" or "criminal psychological
personality profiling." Crime scene analysis,
criminal investigative analysis or what is often
referred to as "profiling" involves
carefully detailing the crime scene area identified
by officers, detectives, coroners, medical examiners,
criminalists, forensic scientists, and evidence
technicians (Davis, 1993; Geberth, 1981). Along
with talking to forensic crime scene photographers
and examining crime scene or victim photographs,
the police psychologist (especially when trained
in the forensic sciences) can give many investigators
sound objective scientific support when evaluating
and examining the critical elements connecting
physical, mental or circumstantial evidence during
intense crime scene analysis. A "profile"
generated at times can yield important psychological,
forensic, and behavioral data or associated variables
as to the offender's "modus operandi"
or M.O. (method of operation) and so-called, individual
"signature." This relates to antecedent
criminal behavior or how the individual organized
and planned the crime, carried it out, staged
it, and selected the victim in some cases (Davis,
1993; Geberth, 1981). Typically, the criminal
does not commit certain types of crimes such as
sexually motivated homicide overnight. These types
of crimes evolve over time and can involve an
organized offender type that plans a very methodical
approach to victim selection and abduction such
as in the Ted Bundy case. Conversely, a disorganized
offender type can carry out the same or similar
crime without such meticulous and methodical approaches
to detail and victim selection such as in the
Richard Chase case (Davis, 1995). To complicate
matters even more, the offender can possess both
organized and disorganized approaches to committing
violent crimes suggesting and presenting a mixed
offender type to investigators or profilers. It
must be recognized even by the most experienced
investigator that a criminal's "M.O."
can change from one crime to the next; however,
the same criminal's "signature" will
remain unchanged and always consistent (Davis,
1994; Geberth, 1981; Cooke, 1980). Additionally,
in terms of a homicide case, the crime scene can
yield significant clues regarding pre-crime and
post-crime scene behavior. It is important to
consider whether the perpetrator was an "organized,"
"mixed" or otherwise "disorganized"
type offender and whether injuries or sexual and
physical assaults sustained to the victim's body
were inflicted at times suggesting ante mortem
(when the victim was alive) or post mortem intervals
(after the death of the victim).
The crime scene, along with additional inspection
at the "morgue scene," (typically held
at the Coroner or Medical Examiner's office),
can render information regarding the degree and
type of violence exerted by the criminal toward
the victim. This is especially important when
examining the various types of trauma inflicted
such as blunt force, sharp force, asphyxia, "tight"
contact or close range gun shot wounds (Davis,
1994; Geberth, 1981). Many crimes have motives;
however, some crimes appear to be senseless or
even motiveless. Evidence of sadistic torture,
trauma to the face or personal areas, binding
of the victims hands and feet (ligature), the
type of binding utilized (duct tape, rope, wire,
electrical cord), the disposition of the body
when found, location of the body when found (i.e.,
open area or secluded area, hidden or covered,
buried or dumped in a culvert or alongside a highway
or back road), and, perhaps, the specialized positioning
of the body (undressed, dressed, provocative pose
or otherwise) can often reveal the killer's organization
(or lack of), planning and thought processes before,
during, and after the act of violence was committed.
The connecting elements of the crime, the "signature"
and "profile" of the individual who
carried out the heinous act of violence, no matter
how organized, disorganized, sexually sadistic
or ritualistic, will in most cases, typically
surface (Davis, 1994; Cooke, 1980).
In addition to providing and supporting investigators
with valuable antecedent criminal profile information
and data, the police psychologist can be a valuable
asset to the department directly when the community
or even police personnel have witnessed an act
of violence, a crime, or a tragedy so bizarre,
unusual, brutal or heinous that critical incident
debriefing or consultation and subsequent counseling
for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs.
An example would be the unforgettable massacre
and mass homicide of 2l innocent and unsuspecting
men, women, and children (the youngest victim
was eight months old) involving James Oliver Huberty
that occurred at McDonald's Restaurant in San
Ysidro in July of 1984. We must not forget the
mass homicide of 23 victims at Luby's Cafeteria
in Killean, Texas by solo gunman George "Jo
Jo" Hennard (Hennard's murderous action
remains the largest single incident of mass homicide
witnessed in this country to date). Consider
the brutal serial homicides in 1990 that effectively
terrified the residential suburbs of Clairemont
and University City areas of San Diego which took
the lives of six women, one of which was this
author's former student (Davis, 1995). The San
Diego Police Department and Homicide Division
received thousands of calls and over 1, 100 leads
or tips from the public regarding the six San
Diego murder cases. Top police administrators
and supervisors subsequently assigned 44 investigators
to the case which eventually turned out to be
the largest serial murder "man hunt"
in the San Diego Police Department history. The
FBI was also involved in this case from a forensic
and profiling standpoint.
In times of public "outcry" or citizen
unrest, a police psychologist can be of valuable
assistance. Supporting the Chief of Police or
Sheriff as an organizational and human factors
advisor, the psychologist or behavioral scientist
can effectively establish or chair a "task
force" to evaluate specific problems facing
police and the community (Davis, 1993; Lefkowitz,
1977; Reiser, 1972).
In general, by integrating the expertise and support
of behavioral scientists or police psychologists
into the structure and daily operation of the
police department, management and supervisory
personnel can ensure the maintenance of productive
functioning as well as the quality of the day-by-day
performances of their sworn and non-sworn personnel.
The utilization of police psychologists has proven
to be an extremely valuable asset and is cost
effective (Davis, 1993). The overall wellness,
mental health and efficiency of the entire organization
can be altered in the long run (Reiser, 1972b).
The time has come where law enforcement departments
can no longer afford not to borrow from the expertise
of the behavioral and forensic sciences (Davis,
Cooke, G. (1980).
The role of the forensic psychologist. Springfield,
Il.: C.C. Thomas Publishers.
Depue, R. (1979).
Turning inward: The police counselor. FBI Law
Enforcement Bulletin, 8-12.
Davis, J. A.
(1995). The police psychologist in today's law
enforcement. The Police Chief Magazine. International
Association of the Chiefs of Police (IACP).
Alexandria, Virginia, Vol. LX11, 11, 36-38.
Davis, J. A.
(1994). The art and science of psychological-criminal
profiling: Selected readings in forensic profile
analysis, Course Workshop Training Manual, San
Davis, J. A.
(1993). The use of behavioral scientists in
law enforcement. The Law Enforcement Quarterly,
San Diego, California.
(1981). Psychological profiling, Law and Order.
E., & Berner, J. G. (1984). POST psychological
screening manual. Sacramento,
California Commission on Police Officers Standards
(1977). Industrial-organizational psychology
and the police. American Psychologist, 32, 346-364.
Reiser, M. (1972a).
The police department psychologist. Springfield,
Il.: C. C. Thomas Publishers.
Reiser, M. (1972b).
Practical psychology for police officers. Springfield.
Il.: C. C. Thomas Publishers.
S. (1978). The psychologist's role in the police
department. The Police Chief, 21-23.
by The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic