What to Expect During the Lethal Weapons Psychological Examination Process
1. The lethal weapons psychological examination process, whether for the Act 235 or Act 120 certification, always involves two basic components – the face to face interview and the taking of the MMPI-II.
2. The face to face interview is an individual interview that is intended to assess your background and history, as well as to assess whether the presence or absence of certain personality traits may contribute to or detract from, your ability to safely and responsibly carry a firearm (or other lethal weapon) in the line of occupational duty. Applicants who are successful in their examination are honest and open, forthright in responses, and allow the examiner to get a sense of who they genuinely are. The individual interview will generally take about 30 minutes but in some instances, may last up to an hour, depending upon the individual candidate.
3. The MMPI-II is a paper and pencil personality inventory that consists of 567 true/false statements. These are things you already know about yourself such as, “I like chocolate ice cream.” There is no need to study for or to prepare for the MMPI-II. In fact, any internet searching you do on “how to pass the MMPI,” is likely to simply cause you problems in passing the exam.
Similar to the individual interview, it is important to be honest in your responses. If you are overly guarded, defensive or deceptive on this exam, the MMPI will reveal that and you will not be passed on it. If you do not pass the MMPI-II, then you will not be cleared even if you cleared the individual examination component. You do not have to be “perfect” to pass the MMPI but you do have to be honest!
On the day of your examination, your examiner will review with you the instructions on taking the MMPI and answer any questions you may have before you begin.
4. There is no time limit on the MMPI examination so you may take as much time as you need. Most people, however, complete it within 90 minutes to 2 hours. There is no need to over-think your answers. You must be able to read English at a minimum of a sixth grade level in order to take the MMPI-II. If you do not read well enough to take it, you may not have another person read the items to you.
5. Once you complete the MMPI-II, your examining psychologist will score and interpret the results. If you are taking the Act 235 examination, your results will be forwarded, within 24 to 48 hours, to the Lethal Weapons Certification Unit of the PA State Police in Harrisburg, PA. If you are taking the Act 120, results will be mailed within 24 to 48 hours to the person or institution whom you designate at the time of the individual interview.
6. Although not typical, occasionally extra testing processes may need to be administered in order to reach a determination. Should this be the case, the examining psychologist will discuss this with you at the time of the interview.
What is Being Evaluated During the Lethal Weapons Examination?
The carrying of a lethal weapon as part of a paid or volunteer occupational duty (whether as an armed security officer, armored car driver, police officer, constable, state trooper, federal or state agent, school security/resource officer, hospital security, volunteer church security team, or any other purpose,) is a serious responsibility and should be treated as such.
Individuals seeking such certification need to be not only psychologically stable but also free of any character traits that would pose a threat to the public with whom they work and their colleagues who depend upon them to behave rationally and calmly in high-stress or crisis situations.
Therefore, some of the things that the Lethal Weapons examination process assesses for are the following:
Ability to Follow Directions
Ability to Interact with Others
Although not typical, occasionally extra testing processes may need to be administered in order to reach a determination. Should this be the case, the examining psychologist will discuss this with you at the time of the interview.
In other words, it is not a simple “signing off” on your form. Please arrive to your appointment prepared to openly address any questions asked of you as they are all designed to assess your mental fitness for assuming the responsibility of carrying a weapon. The examining psychologist has a duty, as a certified Act 235 agent, to perform a complete assessment. Your cooperation and understanding of this process is not only appreciated but is another component of the evaluation.