Minneapolis reducing police psych standards as too many minority candidates rejected

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Too many minority candidates are being rejected by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) for not passing the psychiatric evaluation, despite the low standards set for the assessment. Now, the city may fire its police psychology evaluator due to the low number of minority candidates.

Psych evaluations are already set “far below the national standard,” according to The Daily Caller. After a recent high-profile police shooting -involving officer Mohamed Noor and shooting victim Justine Damond- the city launched an evaluation of its psychological standards for police.

The DC reports:

Psychiatrist Thomas Gratzer has run psych testing for the Minneapolis police for the past five years, and in that time, he has eliminated four of the five tests used to determine whether a candidate is fit to be an officer.

Now, Gratzer is facing firing not for gutting his standard, but for screening out too many minorities.

Noor shot Damond as he was sitting in his police cruiser with his partner. Damond was outside the car when Noor heard a loud banging noise as someone, probably Damond, hit the car and startling the officer, who fired his weapon.

Noor was one of 200 cops approved by Gratzer’s standards in the past five years. Up until 2012, Minneapolis used a more standard five-test procedure. A 2004 federal study found that with those tests, officers who were flagged as “concerning” by the tests were three times more likely to engage in misconduct, according to APM.

Whether Noor would have been flagged, or has any mental disabilities, is unknown.

APM reports:

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 … 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. 

Research shows that some psychological tests can detect which officers are mentally equipped for the responsibility of making life-and-death decisions.

According to the report, Minneapolis has not been consistent with its psychological screening process, and frequently changes evaluators after granting them freedom to decide which tests to administer.

Noor has not been charged in Damond’s shooting.

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