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Laurence Miller, PhD

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About the West Palm Beach Police Department

On November 5, 1894, 78 people met at the "Calaboose" (the first jail and police station located at Clematis St. and Poinsettia, now Dixie Hwy.) and passed the motion to incorporate the Town of West Palm Beach in what was then Dade County. The town council quickly addressed the building codes and the tents and shanties were replaced by brick, brick veneer, and stone buildings. For more history go to 1890's on


As of the 1994 Census, the resident population was 76,342. In the year 2000, the City of West Palm Beach is the largest municipality in one of the country's fastest growing areas: Palm Beach County. Encompassing a geographic area in excess of 56 square miles, West Palm Beach lies on the East coast of Florida, approximately 60 miles North of Miami.


Today, the West Palm Beach Police Department has 271 sworn police officers and 121 civilian employees.  In addition to patrol officers, the West Palm Beach Police Department has a number of specialized functions such as: Criminal Investigations (Auto Theft, Sex Crimes, Burglary, Property Crimes, Homicide); Quick Response Team (Street narcotic and gang suppression); Narcotics and Organized Crime Agents; SWAT Team; Hostage Negotiations Team; Bomb Team; Dive Team; Crisis Intervention Team; Honor Guard; Aviation Unit; Traffic Motor Unit; Traffic Accident; Homicide Unit; Community Policing Unit; K-9 Team; Police Athletic League; and, Marine Unit.


Many of the specialized functions of the West Palm Beach Police Department are organized under the Special Investigations Division. The Special Investigations Division is part of the Investigative Services Bureau which includes the Criminal Investigations Division. The Special Investigations Division consists of the Organized Crime Section Task Force Personnel and the street crimes section Quick Response Teams. This division was created to direct and control the specific activities of the West Palm Beach Police Department in the suppression of narcotic crimes, drug gangs, organized crime activities, vice (prostitution) control, and gambling.


The West Palm Beach Police Department also has a Police Psychologist. According to Laurence Miller, PhD, police psychology “is the application of behavioral science and mental health principles to the concerns of police officers, their families, the department, and the community. Police psychologists perform a wide range of functions, which can be divided into several broad categories.”  Those categories are clinical and mental health services, operational assistance services and administrative and policy services.


An example of Clinical and Mental Health Services are critical incident stress debriefings. Operational Assistance Services are those services which police psychologists provide to the department in real-time such as hostage and crisis negotiation. A police psychologist may assist the Administrative and Policy functions of a department by providing services such as: internal investigation and fitness-for-duty; community policing and officer-citizen contact; forensic psychology and expert testimony; and, leadership and management training in police administration.




Laurence Miller, PhD is a clinical, forensic, and police psychologist in Boca Raton Florida.  He is the consulting psychologist for the West Palm Beach Police Department, a forensic psychological examiner for the Palm Beach County Court, and a police trainer and instructor at the Police Academy-Criminal Justice Institute of Palm Beach Community College.  Dr. Miller is the author of numerous publications in law enforcement journals, as well as nine books, including Practical Police Psychology: Stress Management and Crisis Intervention for Law Enforcement and the upcoming book METTLE: Mental Toughness Training for Law Enforcement.


According to the book description of Practical Police Psychology: Stress Management and Crisis Intervention for Law Enforcement, it “addresses the psychologically complex world of modern policing. It analyzes the unusual crises and everyday challenges faced by all law enforcement personnel, from the street cop to the departmental brass. But Practical Police Psychology goes beyond mere academic analysis, to offer usable, down-to-earth, and immediately applicable—that is, practical—guidelines and recommendations for improving the quality of policing on a daily basis. Two major themes shape this book. The first is the concept of community policing, which is becoming the model of local law enforcement in a growing number of jurisdictions. To be effective in community policing, patrol officers must be practical psychologists. The second theme is professionalism and how those in law enforcement share the role as competent decision makers whose citizens they protect and serve expect them to meet the highest standards of education, training, and psychological fitness. These two themes translate into two broad domains of policing where psychological knowledge and expertise can make important contributions. One is the role of law enforcement behavioral science in operational assistance of police activities, such as hostage negotiation, suicide-by-cop intervention, criminal profiling, suspect interrogation, and others. The second domain has to do with cops taking care of themselves and dealing with problems within their own department, which includes critical incident stress, post-shooting trauma, specialized psychotherapy for law enforcement officers, alcohol and substance abuse problems and others. The result is a valuable and practical guidebook for law enforcement and behavioral science professionals that will measurably enhance the performance of their departments and contribute to the success of community policing and law enforcement professionalization.”


According to the book description of METTLE: Mental Toughness Training for Law Enforcement, “You've trained your body for the rigors of police work. Now train your mind! Let a respected police psychologist teach you: The foundational principles of effective stress management and crisis intervention. Strategies and techniques for building the "psychological body armor" that will help you handle ordinary life stresses as well as life-and-death emergencies. How to survive the emotional aftermath of a critical incident and get stronger.”

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