With so many tragic situations hitting the airwaves each week, issues around public safety dominate many of our thoughts and discussions. The ideologic divide in our society is palpable, with extremist positions being staked out an all sides of an already volatile public debate. Our work at Organization Development Consultants, Inc., (ODC) puts us solidly into the realm of public safety, and our involvement is only increasing!
You see, each week, our psychologists and staff put candidates for law enforcement and fire safety positions through very comprehensive psychological assessments. In short, our goal is to determine the intellectual adequacy and to identify potential psychopathology in those who we may all someday rely on to provide for our public safety. They could very well be among the first responders when future tragedies hit.
When you step back and look at our role, it’s really quite humbling. And few would doubt the critical nature of our work. We recognize our responsibilities in that regard, and quite honestly, we’ve got a great team of professionals that make this process really fun (at least for us, as evaluators!).
So, here’s a conundrum we’ve faced more and more in the past year or so…..candidates are “tripping up” on our assessment process due to triggering the validity scales on multiple personality instruments. This tendency has been trending up over the past year, and it’s not entirely clear why this is occurring.
Together, we’ve talked through several potential hypotheses, including:
- Effects of the Economy – Are candidates for this traditionally very sought after positions feeling increasing pressure “to perform” and thereby inadvertently “faking good” in a subconscious or conscious fear of failing? In other words, are economic and job market realities creating an environment where candidates are at the “end of their rope” and more desperate than usual to attain these positions?
- Has increased vigilance to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which only allows clinical psychological evaluations to take place after a job offer has been made, and upon which ultimate employment is dependent, created its own “monster” with regard to placing undue stress on candidates?
- Are we now seeing a truly different caliber of candidate for police, sheriff, and fire department positions that in the past, and what might be driving that, if so?
Also, as we explore these possibilities and more, we also must examine whether there may be ways in which we can (or should) ethically mitigate this trend. Can (and should) we provide more pre-assessment coaching? Should the departments themselves? Should we recommend to departments conducting all the non-clinical portions of the assessment as part of the actual employment evaluation phase (prior to conditional employment offers being made), and only saving the clinical evaluations for post-offer, pre-employment assessments?
Not sure where this situation will take us, but it’s both a professional and intellectual challenge, and we really enjoy our on-going interactions and partnerships with so many great public servants. So, we’ll continue exploring this (and many other) evolving hurdles and questions….it’s what we do at ODC, and it’s what we love!