Unfortunately, there are no guidelines from the Psychological Services section of IACP that cover the evaluations for positions such as SWAT, hostage negotiator, and undercover work. However, we do know that our process is similar to that used by most psychologists doing this type of work, according to a 2004 survey. Thus, we feel comfortable that our activities are within the standard of practice in our field.
Like the pre-employment evaluations, the special assignment evaluations start with a battery of tests to get a foundation on the officer's current functioning and past behavior. We are especially interested in areas such as stress management, decision making, and judgment. Each position also has unique demands that need to be assessed such as patience for a SWAT officer and communication skills for a negotiator.
The interview focuses mostly on the officer's career in law enforcement, leaving their history before joining the department largely untouched as that should have been covered in a pre-employment evaluation. We are also interested in their current life situation such as stressors outside the job, how their support network feels about their taking on this assignment, and their coping mechanisms for dealing with stress.
The report for special assignment evaluations is more limited and circumspect than the reports for other evaluations. Because the officers are incumbents in good standing, the report does not detail all their admissions but instead focuses on areas of concern that may impact their ability to handle this particular assignment. A sample report can be found on a subsequent page of this web site.