Judgment Review for Police Officer Exam Study Guide (page 2)
What is judgment? A dictionary definition will say something like the ability to see and distinguish relationships or alternatives. Another definition might talk about the ability to think critically and make reasonable decisions based on existing information. Some people equate judgment to common sense.
Police officers must make many decisions in the course of their patrol duties. Despite the existence of procedure manuals and directives, these could never cover every event and the way that event might unfold. If a police department tried to put every situation that could occur into its manual, that manual would be literally too heavy to pick up.
Since it would be impossible for police departments to put applicants into real-world situations to observe their decision-making capabilities, they rely on different types of testing to do this for them. Most written exams will have a section where judgment is tested through multiple-choice questions. You will read a brief passage, usually one describing a police-related situation, and you will be given choices about what action you should take. To answer correctly, you will need to use your common sense, good judgment, and, of course, good reading skills because if you misunderstand the situation presented to you, you are likely to apply the wrong solution.
Some tests achieve the same results by showing the candidates brief videos and asking them to verbally answer questions similar to those they would otherwise have read. The video presentations are less common; they add expense to the testing and run the risk of technical difficulties that prevent all candidates from having the same chance to see the situation clearly. They may also be more difficult for the candidate because unless there are provisions for the videos to be replayed, you do not have the opportunity to reconsider your answer as you do with a question you read in a test booklet.
Whichever mechanism is used in your test—reading the questions from a booklet or viewing the situations on video—judgment questions fall into two general categories: situational judgment and application of rules and procedures. This section looks at each category and provides samples to help you analyze your abilities in this area.
Situational judgment questions ask you to think like a police officer. Do not be concerned that you do not know the laws, rules, or procedures that you are being asked to apply. The questions (or the videos) will tell you everything you need to know. You will be given a situation and you will be asked how you would have handled it if you were the police officer who responded to that event. To help you focus, you are given choices. As is traditional in multiple-choice questions you might be given four choices, or you might be given three specific actions with a fourth choice of "d. none of the above. " These questions are not meant to trick you; there will always be only one best answer. As with any reading comprehension question, make sure you understand the situation that is presented to you. Look for key words; look for context; consider the definitions of any words you do not know; and look for names, locations, and facts that could play a role in your decision-making.
Some judgment questions, like the reading comprehension questions, may give you one passage and ask for a series of decision based on it. In those cases, the later questions may be based on the first one, taking a format similar to "what would you do next?" Other questions will have only one question based on each situation. Do not allow yourself to fall into a pattern; the test might start with requiring you to answer only one question based on a situation and then move into a more complex situation with more than one question based on it. To get you in the mindset for judgment questions, here are samples of a one-question situation and of a situation with multiple parts.
Judgment Sample Questions
- You are a school resource officer assigned to Millburn Middle School. The school principal calls you to his office to report that 12-year-old Thomas has written obscene graffiti on the gym wall and has threatened 11-year-old Mark with a beating if he told anyone. Mark told his teacher, who in turn told the principal, who now wants you to arrest Thomas. The principal tells you that he has also grabbed Thomas by the arm, marched him back to the gym and forced him to erase what he wrote under threat of being expelled. Your best course of action is to
- Take Thomas into custody for criminal mischief and making threats, handcuff him, and call your dispatcher to request a police car to transport you and Thomas to your district station for processing.
- Take the principal into custody for simple assault and making threats, handcuff him, and call your dispatcher to request a police car to transport you and the principal to your district station for processing.
- Speak with the principal out of range of either Thomas or Mark and suggest that the situation be handled as other than a police matter.
- Call a supervisor to respond to the scene.
- Campus Police Officer Skoronski is directing traffic at the entrance to the college's athletic arena after the end of a homecoming basketball game. A small, compact car stalls and the driver is unable to restart his engine. He is blocking one of the two lanes leading out of the arena area. There is a shoulder on only the right-side lane; the roadway is flat. What should Skoronski do?
- Call for a tow truck to move the vehicle.
- Push the car onto the shoulder of the road so that other traffic may proceed.
- Tell the driver to keep trying to start the car and hope he will be successful.
- Direct traffic around the stalled vehicle by having the cars drive on the shoulder of the road.
- While patrolling a suburban light rail station platform at about 10 P. M., Transit Police Officer Lynch is stopped by a middle-aged woman who is crying and holding a piece of ice from a soda cup to a bruise on the side of her face. She tells Officer Lynch that her boyfriend, who is standing off to the side near parked vehicles, hit her twice after an argument about when the train was arriving. Office Lynch should
- arrest the woman on suspicion of prostitution.
- ask the women from whom she obtained the soda and ice.
- take a statement from the man identified as the boyfriend.
- take the woman's statement and detain the boyfriend for questioning.
- Police officers are trained to call for another officer to provide backup when a situation seems to require additional personnel. In which of the following situations would it be most necessary for you, responding as a single-office patrol unit on the 4 P. M. to midnight shift, to request backup assistance?
- Two women who appear to be neighbors are shouting at one another from their front lawns.
- Two women are threatening each other with bottles in the shopping mall parking lot.
- An intoxicated man is staggering on the sidewalk adjacent to police headquarters.
- Teenagers are making noise in a local park's playground.
- The car bearing out-of-state plates is about to turn into a one-way street going the wrong way. You should
- pull the vehicle over and issue a summons to the driver.
- ignore the driver since the street he is trying to enter runs for only a block before becoming a two-way street.
- advise the driver to get a copy of the city's traffic regulations if he intends to keep driving locally.
- advise the driver of his error and permit him to continue on his way without entering the one-way street.
- The person you pulled over on the speeding motorcycle identifies himself as a sergeant from a neighboring department who is off-duty and on his way to pick up his wife from work. You should
- give the police officer either a summons or a warning on the same basis as you would any other motorist.
- apologize for not recognizing a local-area police supervisor and permit him to proceed.
- not issue a summons but report the situation to your supervisor.
- not issue a summons but report the sergeant to a higher-ranking member of his department.
Answer questions 5 and 6 based on the following situation.
You have been assigned to traffic duty at a busy intersection and two situations occur during your patrol; one involves a car with out-of-state license plates, and the other involves a motorcycle with instate plates driven by someone exceeding the speeding limit by about 10 miles per hour.
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