***** Police Assessment Testing, Fourth Edition. By Major John L. Coleman; published by Charles C. Thomas Publisher Ltd., 286 pages, $43.95.
Some police departments evaluate officer skills through what are called assessment centers, which typically involve some sort of exercises and role-playing. In these simulation-based evaluations, personnel are provided background information and are then subjected to time-constrained, work-related scenarios mirroring situations they may encounter on the job.
Candidates are evaluated on their final work product and performance. Assessment centers are used to complement traditional evaluation methods like written tests and face-to-face interviews, but it is generally accepted that when conducted properly, they can more accurately evaluate a person’s potential to perform.
The purpose of Police Assessment Testing is to help personnel prepare for assessment center processes. Author John Coleman’s approach is organized, straightforward, and accurate. He reviews the history and legal aspects of assessment centers. He also discusses how one can develop a testing attitude and how to prepare for a test.
The book further addresses the most traditional test types: in-basket, group dynamic, oral presentation, employee counseling, and problem-analysis documentation. The text adequately discusses why each type is used, how they are established, the traits evaluated, and what the evaluators are grading. He also provides a comprehensive set of examples and material for each exercise.
Coleman’s concern is that the assessment center system is unfair to law enforcement personnel who have limited law enforcement administrative experience or none at all. But other than being strongly stated in the book’s preface, the premise of unfairness is not specifically addressed in the book.
While the book would be helpful to candidates without administrative experience, it would probably be of more help to those who have administrative experience and to exercise developers. The information is well-presented, and the book’s index is thorough. The techniques and information presented are easily transferable to private security services considering the use of assessment centers.
Reviewer: James D. Brown, CPP, is a retired police chief from Streetsboro, Ohio, and associate director of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Kent State University. He is a member of ASIS International’s Law Enforcement Liaison Council.