Oral Board Question – “Making a False Arrest!”November 1st, 2022
To succeed at the police interview exam, you must practice questions – lots of them. That study preparation must include both situational and dynamic-style oral board questions.
Below, we have put together a sample question on one of the most widely asked topics – namely, what to do when making a false arrest.
Assess the question below and determine what answer you would give the interview panel.
Then, compare it to the sample answer we provide. This is the kind of approach candidates need to take when preparing for the oral board exam.
Police Exam Question
“During an evening shift, you are called to investigate 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 subsequently held.
Later, evidence comes to light that you arrested the wrong suspect.
After making that 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. Write down what answer you would give the oral board panel.
Questions on making a false arrest are commonly asked. One of the reasons that oral board panels ask this kind of question is to establish the integrity of the candidate.
In this case, integrity is about admitting personal and professional mistakes. For many people, this is often a very difficult thing to do, not least because ego and pride can often get in the way. This is understandable but, in law enforcement, officers must leave the ego and pride at the door and instead commit to your professional duty.
In this kind of question, the oral board panel want you to admit that you made a mistake, and then see how you would then react to the situation.
“First, I would have to admit that I made a mistake. I made a wrong judgment.
Police officers are no different from everyone else. We all make mistakes. What matters is how we respond to those mistakes and what we learn from them.
In this case, I would immediately notify my supervisor of the error and proceed to release the suspect so that he does not spend any 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 to ensure that the mistake is not repeated in the future”.
Note the humility in the response; how the candidate is willing to learn from the mistake. They are informing the oral board panel that they have integrity, can evolve in their professional capacity, and are unwilling to hold themselves unaccountable for their actions.
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 ask a follow-up question, along the lines of:
“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 relevant authority.
Answering police interview questions on making a false arrest can be challenging.
Again, it requires the candidate to admit fault where needed. 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 take issue with that and mark you down accordingly.
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