Often police departments or other agencies that work closely with the public will request a Fitness for Duty evaluation when they are concerned about the behavior or mental status of an employee. This is especially important because of the sensitive nature of the services provided by law enforcement officers and fire fighters. A Fitness for Duty evaluation does not mean that the Agency is trying to find a reason for termination. Instead, it means that there is some concern that might impact the safety of the public or the officer. Most departments generally contract these types of services with a specific agency or licensed professional with experience doing these types of evaluation.
What to expect: Generally your department will ask you to contact a specific person to set up a time for the evaluation. The evaluation will consist of an interview lasting about one hour as well as the completion of several psychological tests. Tests are chosen based on the type of problem presented. Most tests are normed so that your results can be compared with other individuals similar to you. Some are specific to law enforcement personnel. The tests will take about 3-4 hours to complete. So you can expect to spend approximately 4-5 hours for the evaluation. Once the evaluation is completed, the psychologist will write a report which will give background information about you and the current situation as well as the results of the evaluation. A finding of fitness or unfitness will be made. In addition, the psychologist will make recommendations regarding what should be done to address the issues presented in the evaluation. Generally this might include therapy or some other form of mental health intervention. Usually, when you have completed the recommendations, you will be asked to return for a re-evaluation and to bring verification of your completion of the recommendations. If you are found unfit, you will not be allowed to work until you are again fit for duty. Sometimes, you may be found fit, but recommendations may be made to ameliorate the behaviors that brought you to a Fitness for Duty evaluation. This could be increased supervision for a period of time or some additional training.
Some things to keep in mind: The psychologist doing the Fitness for Duty evaluation will not automatically find you unfit for duty simply because you were sent for an evaluation. However, the fact that you were sent for an evaluation is a strong indicator that your department believes that there is a problem. This is something that should not be taken lightly. It is also important to remember that the psychologist is employed by your Department. As such, the psychologist is not likely to give information regarding the finding of fitness to you directly. Instead, this information will be shared with your department and they will share the results with you. You should also remember that while it is important to be honest and open during this evaluation, nothing you say pertaining to the issue of fitness will be kept confidential from your employers. Therefore, be honest about the situation that brought you to a Fitness for Duty evaluation. But this is not the time to discuss other issues that might cast a negative light on you with your employers.