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Profiling Police: Evaluating the Predictive and Structural Validity of an Actuarial Method for Screening Civil Liabilities Among Police Officer Candidates

NCJ Number
Date Published
32 pages

This study examined the predictive and structural validity of an actuarial method for predicting traits associated with negligent and volatile behavior among police officer candidates.


The results revealed that an actuarial approach to police officer candidate screening can offer a robust prediction of police behavior and can improve the prediction of civil liability indicators among police officers. Candidates demonstrating the following profiles were found to be more likely to become “bad” police officers: evasiveness, bizarre mentality, family problems, insubordination, and prior complaints. An actuarial approach to police candidate screening involves comparing a candidate’s profile, generally determined through psychological screenings, to thousands of preexisting profiles of police officers to determine whether the candidate is more similar to “good cops” or “bad cops.” In this study, investigators assessed whether the three main civil liabilities of Excessive Force, Racially Offensive Behavior, and Sexually Offensive Behavior could be predicted based on variables from a preexisting database of 2,852 police officers who completed assessments at a private police psychological practice. Indices of “good” and “bad” police officers was determined on the basis of post-test assessments, supervisor ratings, incident reports, reprimands, and civilian complaints. Data were initially analyzed through the use of principal components analysis with varimax, stepwise multiple regression analyses, and confirmatory factor analysis. The authors then used a model development approach in which structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to test models, followed by the testing of alternative models suggested by SEM modification indexes. Future research should assess standards of police psychological screenings. Figures, tables, references

Date Published: January 1, 2006