Oral Board Question – “Making a False Arrest!”May 5th, 2020
Police Exam Question
“During an evening shift, you are called to a local disturbance. After investigating the scene and conducting preliminary interviews, you arrest one suspect and bring him to the local police department where he is held. Later, evidence comes to light that you arrested the wrong suspect.
After making a false arrest, what is your response?”
How to Interpret the Question
Before you read on – take a minute to establish what answer you think you would give. Think through the problem and write down the answer and review it later once you have finished the analysis below.
There is a clear reason why questions on making a false arrest is asked. Oral board panels ask this question to establish whether the police candidate has integrity.
In this case, integrity is about admitting personal and professional mistakes. For many people, this is often a very difficult to do, not least because ego and pride can get in the way. But, in law enforcement, you must leave your ego and pride at the door and commit to your professional duty.
In the oral board exam, they want you to admit that you made a mistake and how you would then react to the situation.
“First, I would have to admit my mistake. I made a wrong judgement.
Police officers are no different from everyone else. We all make mistakes. What matters is how we respond to them and what we learn from them.
In this case, I would notify my supervisor of my error and proceed to release the suspect so that he does not spend more time than necessary in jail.
I would heed any advice and recommendations made to me by my supervisor, learn from the mistake, and try to the best of my ability not to repeat the same mistake again.”
Note the humility in the response, how the speaker is willing to learn from their mistakes – thereby improving future professional performance.
This is the kind of answer the oral board panel want to see.
What they do not want to hear are excuses. That you are better than this and that this kind of thing “doesn’t usually happen”. You need to be professional throughout the oral board exam. Never make excuses. Take responsibility for your actions and act accordingly.
This is what will impress the oral board panel.
The oral board panel may follow up with this kind of question:
“Your supervisor informs you that the suspect arrested has a criminal past and so, in this case, the situation should be swept under the rug and forgotten.
How do you respond?”
In this case, you need to inform your supervisor that to proceed with that line of action would be to commit a criminal offense.
You should inform the oral board panel that, though the suspect has a criminal history, it does not justify holding him in jail for longer than is necessary. If a person is innocent, they are innocent – even if they have committed other crimes in the past.
If your supervisor intervenes and overrules your decision by keeping the suspect in jail for longer than necessary, this itself is an offense and you are obligated to point this out and, if the supervisor attempts to silence you or subtly threaten you, you must report his behavior to the appropriate higher authority.
Answering police interview questions on making a false arrest can be challenging. Again, it requires you to admit fault where this is justified. Of course, you should never admit fault if you have done nothing wrong – even if other officers or supervisors are encouraging it.
By being honorable and committing to personal integrity, you demonstrate to the panel that you are mature, serious, and are willing to take responsibility for your actions.
Ultimately, this is what will impress.
If you go down other routes – such as blaming other people or not taking full responsibility for your behavior, do not be surprised if the oral board panel takes issue with that and mark you down accordingly.
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