What sort of person wants to become a police officer?
The nature of the job makes it prone to attract “bad eggs.”
I have no mind to defame the overwhelming majority of police, who are good, well-meaning, courageous, decent people. I don’t know what combination of attributes make a good cop, but I’m pretty sure what makes a bad one, and there are features of the work itself prone to attract bad ones.
By analogy to the other biggest current vocational scandal, there are features of certain professions that attract pedophiles: positions of esteem, trust and authority that facilitate close contact with children. So we find them drawn into teaching, the priesthood, even medicine and pediatrics. Such was Larry Nassar.
The Roman Catholic priesthood presents a special problem. I have no doubt that many well-meaning men who happen to have untoward sexual impulses, seek to become priests in the hope that the vow of “chastity” will “cure” them of those impulses; or at least assure that they’re not acted on (After all, it’s a vow.); and time and again, that hope fails. It appears to me that this has been a problem ever since the expectation of “chastity” first came into effect; and I expect it to continue to be a problem until that expectation is removed.
Different traits make different folk best fit for different jobs.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the job market, checking out any opportunity I could possibly fill. So, I’ve seen various things — requirements that aren’t necessarily stated in the job description.
Before the Horseshoe Casino opened here in Baltimore, they made a big splash to the effect that they were hiring lots and lots of people. They put on classes and seminars and workshops to help people apply for those jobs. In the one I attended, it became very clear that they wanted every single staff member, from drinks server to croupier to dishwasher, to have a bubbly, outgoing personality. Without that, one would not get hired.
The job of inventory taker is best suited to, literally, bean-counters; and some of the job listings I saw for those positions, made that clear. They want people who have a really strong appetite for monotony.
What personality types may be best suited for police?
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator …
… seeks to identify one’s personality type based on the model of Carl Jung; who said one’s personality can be described in terms of four scales or axes:
Extraversion vs. Introversion (“E” vs. “I”)
Sensing vs. Intuiting (“S” vs. “N”)
Thinking vs. Feeling (“T” vs. “F”)
Judging vs. Perceiving (“J” vs. “P”)
This yields sixteen possible personality types, usually denoted by a combination of four letters, such as, in my own case, INFJ.
The axis most familiar to me, and as far as I know most pertinent police work, is the “J” vs. “P” axis. The “judging” person prefers to tell folk what to do, whereas the “perceiving” person prefers to tell folk what they know. The “judging” person prefers to make things happen, whereas the “perceiving” person prefers to see what happens.
A schoolteacher must have a balance between “P” and “J,” since she or he must both tell people what to do, and tell what one knows. It’s good for a military commander to be “J.” An Air Force dentist known to me, who rose to the rank of colonel, was unhappy in command positions because he disliked giving orders. At the other extreme, one of the security guards, one, in my current housing situation, is constantly giving pointless orders, simply to prove he’s in charge. And then there’s The Gestapo librarian.
Where one is on any axis is a matter both of direction from the center, and of distance from the center. This can be measured. Clearly it is good for police officers to be significantly “J.” But if one goes too far, there will be a problem.
… refers to the belief that social predation, the “pecking order,” is right and good — that it’s right and good, in short, to flatter social elites and insult folk at the other end of the spectrum. The strength of this belief in any individual, can be measured. Obviously, people in whom this belief is strong, should not be police officers.
Not in the United States, anyway.
I was once a candidate for the Lutheran priesthood. This normally entails four years of graduate school, plus non-academic requirements, during which time one’s “fitness” is constantly scrutinized. One of the first steps is a day-long battery of psychological tests; that’s how I learned my Myers-Briggs “type.” I don’t know if any such thing is required of police officer candidates, but it might weed out a lot of unsuitable people.