A HISTORY OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES IN LAW ENFORCEMENT ORGANIZATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES
The history of law enforcement in the United States spans three-and-a-half centuries. In its earliest days, law enforcement amounted essentially to the efforts of citizens who volunteered to provide watchman-type duties in their colonies. Their ventures were not complicated. As the need for law enforcement increased in America, corollary growth in its nature and scope followed. A general theme is apparent in this growth; that is, law enforcement developed from simple, uncomplicated functions involving little stress to complex and stressful endeavors requiring highly trained personnel. The earliest involvement of behavioral scientists in the law enforcement field appeared to be about 1916 in the selection of police candidates. They were employed part-time to do psychological testing. Subsequently, the assistance of behavioral scientists expanded to include providing operational help in such matters as hostage negotiation, criminal personality profiling, domestic crisis intervention, crime scene analysis, and counseling with police officers regarding personal problems inherent in police work. These early efforts seemed to come together in 1968 when the Los Angeles, California, Police Department hired a full-time psychologist, thereby giving formal recognition of their importance. Some feel that this event marked the birth of police psychology as a specialty within the field of psychology. Police psychology developed notably thereafter. This development is marked by a steady increase in the number of police departments employing full-time and/or part-time psychologists, the growing number of conferences and symposia wherein police psychologists share their successes and failures in the law enforcement setting, and the recognition by the American Psychological Association of police psychology, in 1982, by designating a special section of an affiliate for psychologists who work in law enforcement. These developments are evidence that psychological services in law enforcement organizations in the United States have become an essential component of contemporary law enforcement programs.