By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.
This page provides background and resources on the complexities, multiple relationships and multiple loyalties that police psychologists face in their line of work.
Police psychology presents complex and often unavoidable multiple roles, multiple loyalties and multiple relationships situations in which the psychologists may be concurrently involved in providing clinical services as well as training, fitness-for-duty evaluations, pre-employment screenings, consultations with SWAT units, hostage negotiations, debriefings, consultations on suicide prevention and other roles. Needless to say, these diverse responsibilities and multiple loyalties (i.e., to the department, officers, public, courts, own safety, etc.), can easily present conflict of interests, conflict of loyalties, and ethical and legal dilemmas. Working outside the office walls, or what has been called Out of Office Experience, adds another dimension to psychologists who work with or as part of law enforcement and police departments.
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4.3. Consulting police psychologists are sensitive to the problems inherent in multiple relationships while recognizing that requests often involve multiple relationships that may pose complex ethical dilemmas. A consulting police psychologist refrains from entering a multiple relationship if the multiple relationship could reasonably be expected to impair the psychologist’s objectivity, competence, or effectiveness in performing his or her functions as a psychologist, or otherwise risks exploitation or harm to the person with whom the professional relationship exists. Multiple relationships that would not reasonably be expected to cause impairment or risk exploitation or harm are not unethical.
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