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Lateral Candidate Fails Psych

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  • Lateral Candidate Fails Psych

    In my former department, we had a number of applicants who were laterals from other departments and FAILED the psych portion of the testing process. They were rejected for employment due to that failure.

    Could there be any ramifications for the applicant and/or their department if the officer got into some sort of altercation or other adverse situation and it is revealed/discovered that he/she FAILED a psych exam during the hiring process for another department?
    My comments are my personal opinion and are based on my life experiences and training. They are not to be construed as legal advice in any form as I am not an attorney. Should you act on any of the information I provide in my comments, you do so at your own risk!!

  • #2
    Anybody can grasp for any reason to sue or make a headline. I did talk to a psych doc that did exams and interviews for multiple departments and he said you have to take in account if they were already police due to the change from past experience. My first thought would be somebody is not caring and failing them all or the department is looking for a certain type of watered down person.
    Where'd you learn that, Cheech? Drug school?

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    • #3
      It would depend on what the department knows and what they did with the information. If the officer just says, "I didn't get hired" that's innocuous. If he tells a supervisor, "I failed the psych test," I'd say the department has to evaluate the officer's fitness for duty. The current issue of Police Chief has an article on the subject.

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      • #4
        It's interesting you brought that up. Years back I worked for a state agency that found itself in need of a large number of officers at different locations throughout the state but on an intermittent basis. We approached POST for ways to do this and it was suggested we hire applicants who were already employed by other agencies to work for us on their off duty time or while on vacation.

        POST specifically advised us that because they were already employed as peace officers by another agency, they were deemed to have met the minimum qualifications and we didn't need to put them through a background, medical or psych (although POST suggested we review their personnel files).

        With this in mind, you have an outside agency "possibly" alleging that an established, qualified officer is now unqualified. I say possibly and alleging for several reasons.

        First, you have to know the depth and criteria of the current psych exam. Is it designed solely to measure whether the applicant is free from any emotional or mental condition that might adversely affect the exercise of the powers of a police officer, and to otherwise ensure that the candidate is capable of withstanding the psychological demands of the position, or does it also include a compatibility factor to determine whether the officer would be a "good fit" for the agency he is applying with? If compatibility is a factor then the DQ may be meaningless in relationship to his agency.

        Next, if emotional and mental state are the only things tested, what is the threshold for differentiating between acceptable and DQ? This will vary from agency to agency and what is a DQ for one department may be perfectly acceptable for another.

        One also must consider the issue of confidentiality. While the applicant has signed releases, they are to provide information to the department he is seeking to work for. It does not authorize them to make public information they obtain during the hiring process. There may be considerable civil liability on their part for disclosing this information to the applicant's current employer without his consent.

        Finally, what can the applicant's current employer do with the information if it is provided to them? While the ADA allows them to conduct medical exams in connection with the hiring process, they cannot compel him to undergo further medical exams, modify or terminate his employment for medical reasons unless they can demonstrate he has a medical condition that has interfered with the satisfactory performance of his duties. Test results alone do not demonstrate he has been unable to satisfactorily perform his duties because of the alleged condition. Any action taken against him based solely on the psych exam would run the risk of an ADA lawsuit.

        .
        Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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        • #5
          Acutally it is VERY COMMON for an experienced police officer to have trouble passing an MMPI type psychological profile examination for police officer.

          The experiences we have with even a short time on duty "change" the way we think and react to certain stimuli


          We just hired a new deputy and his MMPI scored "flags" according to the state examiner. He was required to have an interview with the Physiologist at the academy who cleared him after the face to face.


          I know of many officers who have had similar experiences
          My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

          Comment


          • #6
            The typical entry level psych test is designed for those with no LE experience. I've read that someone who has been a cop for as little as 2 years will generally fail an entry psych test. Many former soldiers will fail it as well.

            If they are giving an experienced cop an entry psych test they are doing it wrong.
            "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

            "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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            • #7
              I failed like 4 of them, and that was before I was hired. I had it on good word that it was directly related to my military service.

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              • #8
                This is neither here nor there but I left my agency and then came back after 5 months. When I did, I had to take that 1,000 question psych test along with a visit to our agency's psych doctor. I almost didn't pass because I answered the question about thinking about suicide. I knew it meant have I ever contemplated suicide but I answered it truthfully that in that I have "thought" about it dealing with suicidal subjects, trying to understand what was going through their head at the time.

                After I explained, the doctor instantly marked that off his paperwork as a sticking point. I'm sure the wording is part of the test so yes, I have thought about suicide in the above instance in addition to thinking of instances to get out of a bad situation like extreme torture and similar captive situations.

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                • #9
                  I have thought about this myself. I have seriously been considering applying to DPS again. If I was disqualified for some reason I would fear my current dept would want to know exactly why.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I've often thought about this in general and have heard of a study where an Academy class was given the same psych test about 5 years or so after they had been on the street 7 the majority failed the original psych test they had taken to get the job. Somehow that doesn't shock me.
                    I've long been of the opinion that PDs need to do psych evals on officers every 3 years or so and ( as odd as this sounds) adjust work assignments in order to avoid psych issues among officers. My rational is simple----even the military doesn't constantly subject its personnel to the same "stimulus" without a break. Why wouldn't you do the same thing for LE? You can't expect anyone to "ram their head into a brick wall" non-stop and not expect some consequences. Sure some or most guys you'll see little if any effect of the day-to-day occurrences in LE but for those that are effected may need, in the interest of the dept, transfer or professional help.

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                    • #11
                      I've long been of the opinion that PDs need to do psych evals on officers every 3 years or so
                      You DO understand that failing the psych test doesn't mean they aren't suitable to be officers, right?

                      It means they aren't the same as people who have never been cops.

                      I'd be more worried about an officer who PASSED the entry level test after few years on the job that one who failed it.
                      "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                      "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tanksoldier View Post
                        You DO understand that failing the psych test doesn't mean they aren't suitable to be officers, right?

                        It means they aren't the same as people who have never been cops.

                        I'd be more worried about an officer who PASSED the entry level test after few years on the job that one who failed it.
                        I understand that completely. But it MAY mean that, not "being the same people", they aren't fit for duty. So there's a 50-50 chance of what you're saying. They may be fine, maybe not, maybe they need a bit of help of some kind.
                        Now if you were given 3 M&Ms and told one of them was poisonous, would you eat one? I think you see what I'm getting at......

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thank you all for the replies.
                          My comments are my personal opinion and are based on my life experiences and training. They are not to be construed as legal advice in any form as I am not an attorney. Should you act on any of the information I provide in my comments, you do so at your own risk!!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by hemicop View Post
                            I understand that completely. But it MAY mean that, not "being the same people", they aren't fit for duty. So there's a 50-50 chance of what you're saying. They may be fine, maybe not, maybe they need a bit of help of some kind.

                            ^^^^^This
                            My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              But it MAY mean that, not "being the same people", they aren't fit for duty.
                              ...and maybe they're a HS senior taking a test meant for 6th graders. The results are going to be screwy.
                              "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                              "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

                              Comment

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