In covering the death of Justine Damond at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, one thing has become increasingly clear: the progressive nature of Minneapolis city government has consequences, one of which increasingly appears to be the death of Damond. So it is with unchecked progressivism everywhere. There are ominous signs racist policies imposed on the Minneapolis PD have caused them to hire people fundamentally unfit to be police officers, and those policies may have directly led to Damond’s death. It’s an issue I’ve repeatedly addressed in articles in the Damond case.
Comes now an article by Curtis Gilbert in APM Reports that should give anyone that might ever come into contact with a Minneapolis police officer pause:
Like most police departments in the United States, Minneapolis requires job applicants to go through a psychological screening before they’re hired.
There is no way to know whether Noor’s psychological makeup played a role in the shooting, or if so, whether any screening could have detected such a tendency. But the screening protocol the city put Noor and 200 other officers through during the past five years is less extensive than the battery of tests used in comparable cities. It’s also less rigorous than national best practices and the screenings Minneapolis administered for more than a decade before.
Starting in 2012, the city eliminated four of the five psychological tests used to screen applicants for its police academy. Those tests — at least one of which the department had used since at least the mid-1990s — were dropped even though a federally funded study conducted in the Minneapolis Police Department showed some were effective at identifying problem officers.
Who is responsible for this? Who would think this a good thing?
It’s even unclear after interviews with the police chief and his predecessor who is ultimately accountable for the decisions the city has made. In a 2006 deposition, a Minneapolis Police Department official said he wasn’t sure how to answer when he was asked who had the authority to hire psychological evaluators. “You never know with the city,” an attorney for Minneapolis quipped.
As a result of the dysfunction, Minneapolis puts itself at risk of bestowing badges and guns on officers who are psychologically ill-suited to their jobs at a time when trust in police is already at historic lows.
No kidding. The article, which though lengthy, I recommend you read, gentle readers, goes on to note the psychiatrist hired by the city since 2012 (Dr. Thomas Gratzer) has no experience in screening police officers. However, he makes up for that apparent deficiency by charging 2-3 times the fee of previous psychologists for every recruit evaluation. But why would the city drop most of its psychological screening instruments? What could possibly be the benefit of that, even if no one employed by the city seems to know who did it or why?
Minneapolis is now poised to replace Gratzer, but not because of the doctor’s testing protocol, credential or high cost. Police leaders appeared unaware of that information until told by a reporter. Instead, they said, they decided to search for a new mental health evaluator because Gratzer screened out a larger percentage of minority applicants, which alarmed them.
Ironically Gratzer, who did not respond to four interview requests, came into the job after the city fired two of his predecessors over concerns they rejected too many minority candidates.
You saw this coming, didn’t you, gentle readers? Fail to approve enough “minority candidates,” whether they’re psychologically fit or not, and you’re out. And even Dr. Gratzer failed to clear enough minorities, so they’re replacing him:
The city’s request for proposals, published in August, said successful applicants ‘must be trained and experienced specifically in the provision of pre-placement and fitness for duty psychological evaluations for public safety positions.’
But, as it did when it hired Gratzer and Fennig before him, the city offered the job to a provider with no experience in the specialized field of police and public safety psychology, one of only 16 certifications recognized by the American Board of Professional Psychology.
Dr. Jan Tyson Roberts is a licensed psychologist, but she acknowledges she has never screened aspiring police officers. She has mostly worked as a counselor at Hennepin County Medical Center and in private practice.
She recognizes the learning curve, but predicts her experience conducting assessments will transfer easily. ‘Whether it’s a widget here or a widget there, it’s still a widget,’ Tyson Roberts said.
This is no doubt particularly true when the primary concern is hiring a sufficient number of widgets of the right color. See if you can guess, gentle readers, whether Tyson Roberts is a member of a “minority” community:
In her job interview with Arradondo, Tyson Roberts says she emphasized her ‘cultural competency,’ which she says means that she has worked extensively with minority communities and understands ‘different is not always deficient.
“Cultural competency.” That’s a pretty big clue. Still not sure? Tyson Roberts will clarify the issue:
I’m an African-American, female psychologist,’ said Tyson Roberts, 52. ‘It’s no secret that there are oftentimes conflicts between the police department and communities of color, and even the Minneapolis community in general. And so if I could utilize my skills and abilities to be able to help the police department screen applicants so that they’re choosing applicants that are suited and well-formed for the job, why not do that?
The issue is the nature of her definition of “suited and well-formed for the job”. And is anyone actually asserting “different is–always deficient”? I suspect they’re asserting, rather that police officers ought to be mentally stable, at least to the degree they don’t shoot at the first thing they see when startled, why, they know not. The current police chief, also a notable minority, is apparently not worried about any of this:
In an interview with APM Reports, Arradondo said he couldn’t confirm that he’d offered the job to Tyson Roberts because no contract had been finalized. Then he smiled and winked at a reporter. He said he wasn’t concerned about Tyson Roberts’ lack of experience.
He said diversifying the department is important, but not as important as hiring the best, most psychologically suited officers. ‘In the peace officer profession, the stakes are incredibly high,’ Arradondo said. ‘And while I absolutely want to see our diversity increase, because the stakes are so high, that can’t be the only thing.
Is Arradondo’s word good on this? Is he truly more concerned with hiring the best officers, or with diversity?
And yet, over the past 15 years, Minneapolis has fired some of the most qualified police psychologists in the state, and then turned to a succession of mental health professionals with little or no experience in the field.
Odd that, if the primary concern is for excellence. Minneapolis is not the only agency falling into the deadly trap of diversity/social justice. In 2011, I wrote an article for PJ Media about the predicament of Dayton, Ohio, forced by the Obama/Holder Department of Justice to dramatically lower its standards for police candidates. The reason: Not enough “minority” candidates were passing the screening examinations. And in July of 2017, I wrote about another related trend in police hiring: screening out people that are too smart, “too smart” being defined as anyone with an above average IQ. The particular case that informed the article took place in Connecticut, where a smarter than the average bear—but otherwise qualified person—was denied a position with the New London Police Department because he was too smart. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled police agencies may screen out people they consider too smart. I do not suggest minorities are, as a whole, inferior in intelligence, but there is no doubt such policies have the practical effect of making it possible for a much larger number of minority candidates to qualify, while simultaneously screening out a larger number of white candidates, particularly males.
Enter Mohamed Noor. There remain three unresolved complaints on his record, and he has been cleared of one complaint, all incurred during his first two years on the job. That’s an unusually high number of complaints, a number that should give any competent law enforcement agency reason for concern. Noor is not only a minority–black—he’s a triple minority: a Somali immigrant and Muslim to boot. He’s just the kind of person that would be very attractive to the Minneapolis PD. A lack of psychological fitness wouldn’t enter into it. We do not, of course, know if Mohamed Noor was wearing a badge primarily because of his racial and ethnic background, nor do we know he was psychologically unfit for the job, but this case certainly raises those possibilities. It is equally possible if Noor is unfit by policy, if he—and others–was wrongfully hired, which was a contributing factor in Damond’s death, it’s likely no charges will be filed as a way of trying to avoid discovery that would make a central article of faith of progressivism look very bad indeed, would be a disaster for the City in the wrongful death actions sure to be filed, and would destroy whatever small public confidence in the MPD remains. Even for some progressives, diversity is grand, until it starts killing people they know and love.
By all means, take the links to my two previous articles. They’ll provide a great deal of relevant information. Many don’t know how police hiring works, so I’ll add a brief description. All states have certain minimums in the law, the most common being a requirement candidates be at least 21. The rest tends to be a mixture of law and agency policy. Normally, any felony is a disqualifier, as are drug offenses, but even that is changing. It seems it’s hard to find enough qualified diversity recruits if one is a stickler for such things as serious criminal records and drug abuse. DUI arrests, which are normally misdemeanors, are also usually enough to reject a candidate, for obvious reasons, except if one is a member of a desirable minority.
Initial testing normally consists of a written exam designed to measure basic people skills and common sense, and I do mean basic. Anyone passing such an exam will not be holding their breath awaiting a Nobel prize notice, nor joining Mensa. An amazing number of people fail even this small measure.
An allied portion is normally a physical fitness exam, which includes only job related measures such as running, sit-ups, pushups, and similar exercises. Again, one need not be an Olympic athlete to pass such tests, yet a surprising number fail even this. In my police career I witnessed people faint, projectile vomit, seriously injure themselves, even have cardiac events that disqualified them, but got them medical attention that probably lengthened their lives.
I should note there is an industry devoted to writing police and firefighter written tests and physical fitness tests to defend against lawsuits for racial bias, the pursuit of which is a competing industry. Virtually all first responder agencies use the services of professionals so they can certify their tests do not somehow discriminate against minorities, who apparently cannot be expected to demonstrate minimal common sense, rock bottom people skills, or sufficient physical fitness to keep from dying of a heart attack from ascending a flight of stairs.
Those passing those tests are not hired, but are normally eligible only for a stringent vetting, which includes criminal and school records checks. All agencies require at least a high school diploma—how could one reasonably think less appropriate?—and some actually require at least an associate’s degree; two years of college. Background checks can also include interviews with people that know the candidate, and perhaps those provided by the candidate as references. These days, a search of the Internet for social media presence and other issues is also common.
Polygraphs are normally an essential part of the process, and even an inconclusive result can be enough to disqualify a candidate, unless diversity requirements take precedence.
The final stages of the process normally include psychological assessment, which normally includes a written measure such as the MMPI (Minnesota Multi Phasic Inventory), and a personal interview with a psychologist. Passing all of this, an interview before a panel of officers—sometimes with some civilians included—is done, and sometimes, a final interview with the head of the agency, or other high-ranking administrator in the agency.
Theoretically, all of this weeds out people plainly unqualified for the job, which is unique in many ways. Unfortunately, things have changed so much from those thrilling days of yesteryear when I played cops and robbers, Mohamed Noor may not only be the status quo, but the future. One significant worry about ontemporary cops is they have virtually all been steeped in shooter video games, which have conditioned them to shoot first, last, always, and an unlimited number of rounds.
While participating in the hiring process, I encountered candidates that tried to borrow money from me, and people with so many piercings and other bits of metal impaling them they could set off airport metal detectors from the parking lot. I rejected people with ridiculous and offensive tattoos, even on their faces and other visible skin. And I rejected people who wanted the job for the wrong reasons, and this is why psychological testing, and even personal interviews, are so important.
Most people have no idea what the job entails. Their image of police work comes from TV and the movies, which are nothing at all like reality. Some want to drive fast and shoot bad guys. Some want power over others, and every opportunity to use it. Some want to be heroes, no matter what it takes. Some just really like guns, in the worst sense of that kind of “like.” Some are well intentioned, but not nearly mentally flexible or strong enough to deal with the stresses. Some believe the job will give them status, and some see it as an opportunity to find women, whether the women want to be found or not.
Once hired, recruits are subjected to what is commonly a year of training designed to discover and correct weaknesses the hiring process missed. Fewer wash out during this stage, but some do, unless their “diverse” status renders them immune. From their hire date, new officers won’t be allowed to patrol on their own for that first year, and for at least a year thereafter, supervisors and more senior officers will keep an eye on them. If a new officer is incompetent or dangerous, it will be no secret, and competent officers will work around them as well as possible.
Keep in mind Noor’s four formal complaints requiring departmental investigation must have occurred not within two years, but within only the single year he was more or less on his own on the street post-training.
Those pathologies and more are what a competent process can detect. That’s why an effective, competent process designed to find and hire only the most qualified candidates possible is essential. Diversity has no place in proper police hiring. If the process is competent, if it truly measures abilities demonstrably job-related, there can be no room for diversity, because diversity is, by definition in such cases, a requirement standards be weakened, even abandoned, to accommodate the unfit to vindicate social theories and political goals.
Police hiring is always handicapped because candidates must be chosen from the human race. With that kind of limitation, hiring people known to be unfit, even dangerous, inevitably causes enormous damage.
Does Mohamed Noor represent that kind of danger? His fellow police officers know. They always know but seldom tell. If Noor is charged with a crime, we will also know. If not, progressivism will have likely dodged a bullet Justine Damond could not.