Police Assessment Center Preparation
Lawrence R. O'Leary Ph.D.  More Info

Criminal Justice Online

Preparing for Assessment Centers

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Rick Michelson

Assuming your either a police officer or firefighter, imagine yourself either driving through the dark streets, the police radio finally quiet after a night of breaking up fights, wrestling drunks and mediating family quarrels, or as a firefighter, racing through the streets, responding to three-alarm fires, lugging hoses and pumping water until your arms feel like rubber. Finally, you have a moment to think about your future with the department.

You know the next promotional exam is coming up soon, and you have made up your mind that you are ready to promote. You feel you have demonstrated to the department that you are "ready" for a promotion. After all, haven't you volunteered for all the last minute overtime assignments and "special projects", just to show your boss that you had what it takes?

Finally, the official announcement is posted. Candidates will also have to participate in an ASSESSMENT CENTER! You wonder, just what is an assessment center?? Worried, you ask the old "salts," the veterans, what they know about this new twist.

One says, "Ah, you can BS your way through them. They just want to see who talks the most. That's how they get points". Another says, "Oh, those are outdated now. No one uses them anymore. So don't worry." Still another says, " It's a group dynamic thing. They want to see who the true leaders are. You just go in there and take control of the group from the "get-go", and you'll do just fine."

Hopefully, much of what you will find will both help you prepare for an assessment center and also pass them. The fact is that the use of assessment center method is a very viable promotional tool. If you are faced with one, there are some things you should know about them.

From a line officer's/firefighters perspective, they may seem to be used only for Command Level selections. In fact they are used for a variety of promotionals, including a variety of civil service and business positions. It is surprising how many officers, Sergeants/Engineers, Fire Captains, Police Lieutenants, Battalion Chiefs and Police Captains, have not had the "opportunity" to participate in assessment centers. Should you learn more about assessment centers? Can you prepare for them? Of course you can. Just as you would prepare for any exam. The key to success is always the same: Preparation & Practice.

Assessment Center Exercises

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