The Formal Assessment Center: Justifications for Its Use and Recommendations for Implementation




Jackson, Emmit R.

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



Every police organization is faced with the task of choosing officers to elevate to supervisory positions. Selecting individuals who have the requisite skill set to lead the organization through current and future challenges is essential as the demands on policing have evolved and will continue to do so. Organizations that fail to do so run the risk of not being fully successful. Historically, the task of supervisor selection has been accomplished using multiple choice cognitive ability tests, face to face interviews with commanders, or a formal assessment center (Trojanowicz, 1980). Cognitive ability tests and interviews with command staff members have shown many drawbacks. Cognitive ability tests only show how well a candidate can recall information but do not show whether the candidate can act upon it. In person meetings with commanders, sometimes referred to as oral interview boards, can lack objectivity because the commander may favor some traits or accomplishments and past performance has little correlation to future performance (Cox, McCarney & Scaramella, 2009). A formalized assessment center that utilizes external assessors should be used to make promotions to supervisory ranks. Research has shown that assessment centers are capable of identifying behaviors and traits that are necessary in the job role being tested for. The use of properly trained external assessors also protects organizations from claims of discrimination and shows less adverse impact on minority groups (Hale, 2016). Additionally, assessment centers reduce the incidence of internal complaints of favoritism and can measure for emotional intelligence, a trait heretofore not considered when making promotional decisions.


Police personnel management, Assessment Center (personnel management procedure)