47 Alameda Co. sheriff's deputies stripped of guns, duties due to 'unsatisfactory' psych exam scores

ByLuz Pena and Leslie Brinkley via KGO logo
Tuesday, September 27, 2022
47 Alameda Co. deputies stripped of duties due to poor psych exam
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Forty-seven Alameda County Sheriff's deputies were stripped of their guns, duties after receiving unsatisfactory scores on psychological exams.

ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Forty-seven Alameda County sheriff's deputies were stripped of their weapons and badges over the weekend after an audit revealed that they had received unsatisfactory scores on psychological exams.

30 of them worked at the Santa Rita Jail and 17 were on assignment elsewhere in the county.

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The deputies were notified on Friday night that they could no longer make arrests or carry firearms following an audit of psychological exams dating back to 2016 in which the officers got "unsatisfactory "scores.

What triggered the audit was a double homicide several weeks ago when 24-year-old Deputy Devon Williams was arrested for killing a husband and wife in their Dublin home. It was later revealed that he had had a relationship with the woman and failed his law enforcement psychological exam.

"You have the sheriff's department essentially giving officers a free pass to carry a gun and a badge to do police work when they are completely unqualified and a failed one of the key components of whether you can be trusted with a gun and a badge which is to be psychologically stable," said civil rights attorney Adante Pointer.

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The Alameda County Sheriff's Office said Monday that psychological testing standards have changed since 2016 and the 47 officers reassigned to desk jobs will undergo a new round of screening. They said the earlier scores were due to immaturity.

"A lot of young people out of college don't do as well on the psychological exam as someone who has much more life experience," said Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly. "This has nothing to do with substance abuse issues or mental disorders or diagnoses. We believe testing scores will go up based on the number of years of service"

Ladoris Hazzard Cordell, a retired Superior Court Judge and former Independent Police Auditor for the City of San Jose, pointed out that the psychological exam measures more than just age.

"The whole purpose is to determine whether or not that person is suitable to do the work of a law enforcement officer," said Cordell. "Free from emotional and or mental conditions that might adversely affect the exercise of the powers of a peace officer. Is that person psychologically suitable for the work?"

Jim Hammer, former San Francisco Assistant District Attorney, believes these candidates should've been flagged years ago.

"No job that requires more discretion, more good judgment, more balanced psychological state than someone with a badge and a gun charged with enforcing the law. So, whoever allowed them to go on to duty with a D- score I hope they are not in authority anymore," said Hammer.

Others believe this could call into question all of the testimony, arrests, and encounters these officers have had.

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"This opens up Pandora's box of problems and issues for the sheriff's department," said Pointer.

One officer has already been reinstated with a record of a later exam. The 46 others will be retested in the coming weeks.

"We are working hard to get them to the appointments and get the test done and return everybody back to full duty," said Sgt. Kelly.

"There are going to be some very serious precautions. I see lawsuits, I could see the deputies suing, saying wait a minute we had all these rights and nobody even told us, Then there is concern about who was it that didn't have this information. Some heads are going to roll," said Cordell.

We reached out to the union representing sheriff's deputies but did not hear back.

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