An Interesting Career in Psychology: Assignment

An Interesting Career in Psychology: Assignment Words: 800

With some new friends who hared our Interests, we trained in first aid and rescue, establishing a “junior” auxiliary to the local ambulance corps. We reveled in the excitement of responding to emergencies. For a teen, it was empowering to have responsibilities that truly made a difference. Not to mention that It was really cool to occasionally be taken out of high school classes by a police officer with a waiting cruiser, speeding away with lights and siren to the scene off fire or wreck. Talk about reinforcement.

In college I proudly enrolled in Air Force ROTC, but had no Idea where that would lead. I was a psychology major, permitted to obtain a masters degree prior to entering active duty. Studied school psychology, which was qualifying for assignment as an Air Force Psychologist. My graduation present was a letter, informing me that the qualifying standards had Just changed and now required a doctorate. I had to select another military career option and was asked, would I be Interested In being a Special Agent of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations?

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Providence. Following training I was assigned as a Special Investigations and Counterintelligence Officer to the Air Force OSI office in New York City. Later, I was reassigned to the Special Investigations Academy In Washington, DC where I Instructed In a variety of topics, Including Interviewing and Interrogating, due to my psychology background. But I wanted to do more. The field of police psychology was Just emerging in 1973 and my interests were fired by behavioral science techniques such as forensic hypnosis, psychological autopsies and profiling.

My efforts to practice In these areas were, however, blocked by the OAF Surgeon General’s Office, properly declaring that these were “psychological” methods and by military standards, I wasn’t qualified. My agency fixed that, sponsoring a fellowship for doctoral study that I was the first to occupy, resulting in my being the first police psychologist in the federal government. More good luck. I studied under Charlie Spielberg. Who some readers may not know was an Officer in the Navy Reserve. I am indebted for his commitment to my goal in applying psychological science to military law enforcement.

My master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation exposed the misuse of voice stress analysis for lie detection. Voice analysis is a process that now thirty years later Is enjoying resurgence In the racetrack, despite the absence to date of any form of scientific validation. Of the many applications of psychology to military, law enforcement and forensic arenas, several stand out for me due to their Inherently Interesting nature as well as the need for credible study. One, which has been a particular honor, regards espionage.

In 1983, I participated in a conference at the CIA that was intended to 1 OFF was to start from square one, asking the hard questions, to include why espionage occurred, and how to investigate and stop it. The conference confirmed that the Intelligence Community had as many different conceptions of this crime as there were agencies to pursue it. The direction for investigation and security came from intelligence officers and agents for whom espionage was anathema. With few exceptions, the keepers of our national security could not comprehend how trusted employees could betray their nation.

There was no understanding of the mindset from which espionage grew, nor of influences that promoted or deterred such activity. I concluded that there had been no effective effort to coordinate or scheme to share information, analyze patterns, trends and factors that might explain what as considered to be an enigma. I proposed research to conduct a comprehensive study of espionage, incorporating multidisciplinary experts in the review of every case in which the subject was alive and willing to speak to researchers.

Using a model pioneered by the FBI, we set forth to interview and psychologically assess espionage subjects and to collect corroborative information from those who knew them at the time of their crimes. By the time I retired from the government I was working full time directing this effort, which has resulted in many innovations in countering espionage, to include the effective profiling of suspects. This important work continues today, applying research standards to understanding and reducing risk to national security.

This is Just one of a number of areas where psychologists in the government are making important contributions. Since leaving military service I have established a network of police psychologists to serve Federal law enforcement agencies. Our team covers all 50 States and US Territories, providing pre-employment selection screening, fitness for duty evaluations, crisis intervention, direct investigative/operational support, team building, training and other services, when ND wherever the need.

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