Social media has been awash in the last couple of days with the #EndSARS hash tag, Nigerians have been posting their horrific experiences in the hands of the special Anti robbery squad, a unit of the Nigerian Police set up to curb the activities of gentlemen of the night or armed robbers. Indeed, it must be said that these criminals had, prior to the advent of the SARS unit caused palpable fear among residents across the country; there were areas where they would post letters to residents that certain streets will be visited on a particular day. This was the umbrella of fear under which we lived prior to the establishment of SARS.
The outcry has now reached international proportions with some Nigerians proposing the outright scrapping of SARS while others have said you can’t throw away the baby with the bath water, that SARS should be reformed.
Among the reforms Nigerians want is the employment of properly screened police officers that are mentally capable of shouldering the great trust and responsibility put on their shoulders by the society.
Indeed one has to question the mental capacity of some of the officers who brazenly shoot at the slightest of provocation, involve in acts of brutality, bribery and extortion of innocent citizens.
That being said, the question now is will a psychiatric test help weed out these sets of individuals? Before answering that we need to understand what a pre-employment psychiatric evaluation is and isn’t.
What is a psychiatric evaluation?
Basically it involves a set of screening tests and tools aimed at assessing if you are suitable for a specific role; it checks if you possess characters that are undesirable for the job you are applying for.
Will it tell if someone is mad/crazy or not?
No, if you fail it doesn’t mean you are mad, if you pass it doesn’t mean you are sane.
What then is the aim of a psychiatric evaluation?
The tests will want to check your basic abilities for example basic maths, your ability to comprehend and memorise what you read, how you write and your grammar use, whether you can identify and solve problems; this should be fairly easy for a primary school pupil.
It will also want to know your background, for example if you have a criminal history; have you been jailed before? Do you have any court cases pending?
Are you indebted to anybody or organisation?
In well established societies there will be a lie detection test.
Another important check is if you have a history of drug / substance use, misuse or abuse. This is very crucial.
Your physical abilities will also be tested, in the police force we can’t afford to have pot bellied men who cannot duck for cover when under fire by criminals or who develop palpitations when they run 10 metres.
There will also be a medical screening; do you have a heart condition that may hamper your work?
What processes will one go through?
The first stage will be a questionaire where you will fill details about your self, schools you’ve attended and places you’ve worked, your character traits including strength and weaknesses, drug use etc
There will also be repeated multiple choice personality questions that will check if you are consistent with your answers.
After this you will sit with a psychologist. You may be asked to shed more light on the attributes you’ve listed.
How will the results be graded?
You will be categorised as either low, medium or high risk if given the job
So what benefits will be got from the test?
With a psychiatric evaluation at the disposal of your employers, they will be able to check if you have the traits they are looking for. As regards the Nigerian Police Force we need the following:
- Bravery: many jokes abound of policemen being informed of a robbery and removing their uniforms or running in the opposite direction.
- Impulse control: have you seen a Nigerian Policeman being rudely spoken to and replying with courtesy? I would really like to know.
- Honesty and Integrity: We don’t need to talk about bribes here.
- Judgement and General intelligence: Have you ever been accused by policemen of beating the traffic light when you know you moved at green but it suddenly changed?
Can a crazy person pass the test?
Unfortunately the answer is yes.
Are psychiatric tests worth all the trouble?
With a good screening done, if 10000 applicants apply to the Nigerian Police, 500 will be disqualified. Not a sizable number right? But imagine giving these 500 people guns, vehicles and authority. Think of the multiplier effect of this catastrophe.
Are we doing these tests in Nigeria?
Is there a set standard in Nigeria presently? Do we have the capacity to conduct these tests? Has any police officer undergone these sort of tests? Your answer is as good as mine.
What do you think, will such tests help?
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