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Recruits to get psychiatric evaluation

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A full fledged psychiatric evaluation is being considered for police recruits; all part of the force’s efforts to ensure that only the very best become police officers.

While it may be a while before such a process comes on stream, Commissioner of Police Keith Miller told SEARCHLIGHT earlier this week that no effort is being spared when it comes to protecting the integrity and quality of the police force.{{more}}

Speaking at a ceremony for the handing over of six motor bicycles to the police on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that it is important that the police force more closely examine the character of prospective police officers.

This, he says, would help to make sure that the police force is endowed with the best possible officers.

Dr Gonsalves said that while a person can be trained to become a better skilled officer, it is the character of the police officers that would make them assets to the force.

“If you are a rude boy in the community, you are most likely going to be a rude boy in uniform,” Dr Gonsalves said.

“This is done, but obviously, as the Prime Minister said, more has to be done,” said Commissioner Miller.

He said that a character investigation is a key aspect of the selection process, noting that members of the Police Intelligence Unit are usually on “the ground”, checking out the background of potential officers, way beyond a police record check.

“There are instances where people with the academic qualifications apply and are turned away because of their attitude in previous jobs; some have shown no respect for authority where they worked,” Commissioner Miller said.

He also said that a person who has a record of leaving jobs quickly is also examined closely for attitude trends that may be undesirable in the police force.

According to Miller, another very sticky situation is when a candidate is found to be a close relative of a person who is noted for dealing in drugs.

“We are trying to put up a fight against narcotics,” Commissioner Miller said, noting that such a police officer could be placed in a very compromising position during their career in the force.

“I have had to ask some persons to go home, think about it, have a family dialogue, think about the implications, before coming to us,” Miller said.

Miller also said that while the talk about the use of polygraph tests had become a matter of much discussion, it was, and will continue to be necessary at times, to solicit the expertise of this testing method. This, he suggested is to make sure that when an officer is considered for certain specialized or sensitive positions, that they are best suited, and can be trusted, as far as can be determined, to carry out their duties with integrity.

Dr Gonsalves noted that with the increase in salary given to police officers through the reclassification process, more and more qualified persons may consider the law enforcement track, rather than the regular civil service.

He noted that the entry salary for a junior clerk in the civil service is approximately $1100, while that of a new constable has increased by about $500, now standing at over $1500.

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