Bay Area sheriff’s office audit reveals 45 officers failed psychological evaluation



CNN

In Alameda County, across the bay from San Francisco, 45 sheriff’s deputies have been disarmed.

They are now confined to desk duties. They cannot arrest anyone. They can’t even issue traffic citations.

The department’s admission came after an internal audit failed the psychological assessment of those 45 MPs as part of the recruitment process. Everyone knows “D. It’s not right.” He is not fit to be a law enforcement officer.

A failed evaluation is required by California state law for anyone who wants to be a peace officer.

“If you look at criminal charges or arrests based on an officer’s credibility … that’s a problem,” says Adante Pointer, an Oakland attorney who specializes in police brutality cases. “That could lead to overturning of convictions, dismissal of charges.”

The audit, according to the sheriff’s department, was prompted by a double homicide in early September. Suspicious? Deputy Sheriff.

“Both individuals, a husband and wife, were shot and pronounced dead at the scene,” according to a statement from the Alameda County Prosecutor’s Office, “Deputy Devin Williams Jr. of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.” they have accused him of two murders.” Detectives believe Williams “had a relationship with the female victim,” according to the arrest report. His attorney did not return CNN’s calls seeking comment.

“Devin Williams was the catalyst,” Lt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office told CNN. “Not only was it a crime, you have to see that he was a law enforcement officer. And ask, are we missing something here? Red flags?”

Kelly would not comment on whether Williams failed a psychological evaluation.

Williams is now in the Santa Rita County Jail, where 30 of the 45 deputies failed a psychological evaluation. Earlier this year, a judge ordered supervision outside the prison, settling a lawsuit filed by inmates who said there was a lack of mental health care and poor conditions. A Justice Department report on jail conditions published last year concluded that the county and sheriff’s department likely violated federal law and the constitution by failing to provide inmates with adequate mental health care.

“From 2015 to 2019, at least 14 inmates died by suicide at the Jail,” the April 2021 report reads in part. “Two other prisoners have committed suicide in prison in the last two months.”

“The question is, is there a correlation?” said Pointer, the lawyer. The deputies who failed the psychological evaluation, he said, “had been working in that prison for several years.”

The 45 cited are among about 1,000 Alameda County deputies who underwent psychological evaluations and were hired since 2016, or less than 5 percent, Kelly said.

The assessment, mandated by California state law, includes a written section, a background check and an interview, according to the statute, “to determine whether the candidate is free from any emotional or mental condition, including race or ethnicity, gender bias, national origin, religion, disability or sex.” – a tendency that may harm the exercise of the powers of the peace officer.

California law requires job candidates to be “determined to be psychologically fit” before they can get a job. So by law you can’t get a “Not Adequate” rating and then get hired. But the Sheriff’s Department says they were told otherwise many times by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, known by its acronym POST.

In a letter sent to those 45 deputies late last week, Sheriff Gregory Ahern wrote, “The Sheriff’s Office operates based on information provided by POST several years ago, “D. Not Appropriate” evaluation. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.”

Kelly says he has correspondence that proves what POST called the department “bad information.” He told CNN that he cannot release him at this time.

“We’re still investigating, and I can’t comment,” POST spokeswoman Meagan Poulos told CNN. He said he is not aware of similar problems in other sheriff’s departments in the state. “This is the first time that a problem has arisen for us. We are in many unknown waters.’

Asked whether a deputy who failed the assessment could be considered a danger to society, Kelly said: “I’m sorry not. But then you have the Devin Williams scenario.”

Kelly says the department has reviewed the service records of 45 deputies. “No red flags. No pro flag,” he said.

The group, he said, includes many female MPs and MPs of color, and some white men.

He said none of the 45 have been diagnosed with a mental health condition.

But Pointer, an Oakland attorney who specializes in police brutality cases, is skeptical.

“Forgive me if I can’t take their claims at face value,” Pointer said. “They can’t say ‘Move.'”

Deputies can now take another psychological evaluation and, if they pass, will immediately return to full duty, Kelly said. In the meantime, they have a full salary. “It’s about 25 shifts a week that we have to fill at the jail,” Kelly said. “We can absorb that in the short term.”

When Lt. Kelly was hired more than 25 years ago, he says there were thousands of applicants for very few positions. He says the bar for entry was so high, “It was a case of do it or become a saint.”

But, he says, times have changed. Today there are few applicants and many vacancies. Kelly cites the stress of working under the scrutiny of social media as a reason why recruiting and retaining MPs can be such a challenge. “The caliber of people we could hire has gone down,” he said. “Now we’re ready to forget and give up some things that would normally never get you in the door of this place.”

Kelly told CNN that many of the 45 deputies who failed psychological evaluations had dropped out of college. And their youth, he says, rather than serious character flaws, may have failed them. “Imagine you never had a job. You don’t have children. Imagine trying to deal with a domestic violence situation. You don’t have that experience,” he said. “Maybe that’s why they had trouble getting the psych exam.”

Not everyone is ready to accept that explanation.

“If you don’t have the maturity or life experience to make life or death decisions,” says Pointer. “Then you don’t have to trust a badge. Or a gun.’