Police psychology

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Police psychology, also referred to as "police and public safety psychology," was formally recognized in 2013 by the American Psychological Association as a specialty in professional psychology.[1] Police and public safety psychology is concerned with assisting law enforcement and other public safety personnel and agencies in carrying out their missions and societal functions with effectiveness, safety, health and conformity to laws and ethics.[2]

Specialized Knowledge[edit]

Police and public safety psychology requires, at a minimum, distinctive knowledge of the following: essential functions of police and public safety organizations and personnel, working conditions unique to their respective positions, common and unusual stressors in public safety work, normal and abnormal adaptation to occupational stress and trauma, research related to resilience and recovery in public safety personnel, and the unique aspects of confidentiality and testimonial privilege when providing services to public safety personnel and/or agencies.[3]

Police psychologists[edit]

Police and public safety psychologists apply the science and profession of psychology in four primary domains of practice: assessment (primarily preemployment assessments of prospective candidates and fitness-for-duty evaluations of incumbent personnel), clinical intervention, operational support, and organizational consultation. Police and public safety psychology intervention strategies primarily include short-term cognitive behavioral treatments and approaches. Training also includes review of research regarding the relative efficacy as well as the limitations of post-crisis interventions unique to law enforcement personnel (e.g., post-shooting incidents, line-of-duty deaths, deep undercover stress reactions). In addition, various modalities of treatment and programs are typically integrated within the training (e.g. peer support teams, EMDR, suicide intervention training, wellness coaching). Preparation for practice in operational psychology includes review of research in: crisis intervention, hostage negotiation, criminal profiling, psychological autopsy, and epidemiological factors affecting outcomes of various tactical situations.[4]


There are several police and law enforcement agencies in the world today that employ police and public safety psychologists and these are:

  1. The Los Angeles Police Department - At the Behavioral Science Services
  2. The Federal Bureau of Investigation - At the Behavioral Analysis Unit
  3. U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations - A military investigative agency
  4. The National Police Improvement Agency (UK) - Behavioural Investigative Advisors (BIA)
  5. The Hong Kong Police - Hong Kong Police Force - Psychological Services Group
  6. The Japanese Police - Japanese Nation Policy Agency - National Research Institute of Police Science at the Criminology and Behavioral Sciences Section
  7. Singapore Police Force - Police Psychological Services Division (PPSD), Police Headquarters.[5]
  8. Behavioural Sciences Unit, Singapore, at the Home Team Academy.[6]
  9. Western Australia Police Academy - Occupational Psychology Unit.

Professional organizations[edit]

  1. American Board of Police & Public Safety Psychology[7]
  2. Society for Police and Criminal Psychology[8]
  3. International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Police Psychological Services Section.[9]
  4. American Psychological Association, Division 18 (Psychologists in Public Service), Police & Public Safety Section[10]
  5. Consortium of Police Psychological Services (COPPS)

Investigative psychology[edit]

Investigative psychology has gained its own following.[11] This field was started in 1990 by Professor David Canter whilst at the University of Surrey, in the South of England (Canter and Youngs, (2009). It brings together issues relating to investigative information, the drawing of inferences and the ways in which law enforcement decision-making can be supported through scientific research. Investigative psychology grew directly out of empirical research. This field covers the full range of investigation related activities such as :

  1. detection of deception,
  2. investigative interviewing,
  3. statement analyses,
  4. behavioral analyses of crimes.

This sphere has been much abused worldwide with the spread of the use of originally Eastern methods, including gradual copying of the type of methods once associated to some areas of Asia, what characterizes the latter is the contacting of the suspect via mental means, "thinking to" techniques known already in Eastern Europe followed by repetition of the alleged offence continually mentally to make it start repeating itself in the mind and even begin to affect speech. Thus these type of investigations and any based on them, being most legally conducted in their areas of origin, are highly dubious.


  1. Leicester University (UK). Masters of Science in Forensic Psychology.[12]
  2. Portsmouth University (UK). Masters of Science in Forensic Psychology.
  3. University of Liverpool (UK). Masters in Investigative and Forensic Psychology.[13]
  4. Griffith University (Aus). Masters of Science in Forensic Psychology.[14]
  5. University of South Australia (Aus). Master of Forensic Psychology.
  6. Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) (not a course itself — but a module). The Forensic Psychology of Crime, Terrorism and Disasters[15]
  7. National University of Singapore. Correctional Psychology (Singapore)
  8. University of Indonesia (Professor Sarlitos Wirawan Sarwono)[16]
  9. Hong Kong University (while it doesn't specialise in police psychology, its faculty includes police psychologists.[17]
  10. Bond University[18]

Police Psychology Blogs[edit]

  1. Dr. Gary S. Aumiller's "Inside Police Psychology" http://policepsychologyblog.com/
  2. Dr. Laurence Miller: http://www.policeone.com/columnists/laurence-miller/