Minneapolis, MN – The city of Minneapolis may have lowered its standards for police officers to an unsafe level, but some say that even after the change, the process is still discriminatory.
Over the past five years, the city of Minneapolis eliminated four of the five psychological evaluations given to Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) applicants to determine whether they are mentally fit to be officers.
They did so using because the testing was eliminating too many of their minority applicants.
Questions about whether the current psychological screening process had failed were raised after Justine Damond was shot by MPD Officer Mohamed Noor in July.
Damond, an unarmed citizen wearing just her pajamas, was fatally shot by Officer Noor, who responded to her 911 call reporting an incident in her neighborhood. The prosecutor has not yet determined whether Officer Noor will be charged.
Gary Fischler, a Minneapolis licensed psychologist who specializes in police and public safety psychology, said he’d want to know how the psychological evaluation was done, and whether it was up to standards, before trying to determine whether the system had failed in the case of Officer Noor, the Minnesota Post reported.
“Because no psychological evaluation can be a perfect predictor, the evaluation could have been done perfectly correctly and within the bounds of what would be considered good practice, but something happens you wouldn’t have expected to happen because that’s the nature of it,” Fischler said.
But MPD’s standards are not within the bounds of what “would be considered good practice.”
In fact, over the past five years, MPD’s psychological evaluator, Thomas Gratzer, dropped screening standards below those used in comparable cities, and those recommended by national best practices.
Minneapolis used the standard five-test psychological evaluation procedure from the mid-1990s until 2012. Those original tests worked, according to a federally-funded study conducted in the Minneapolis, APM reported.
The study found that the officers flagged as concerning by the tests were three times more likely to engage in misconduct.
Despite the evidence in that study, Gratzer had stopped administering four out of five of those tests to police academy applicants.
Critics had argued that the screening was done using an obscure system designed to flag police recruits who may have racist or sexist attitudes.
They said the psychological screening made it more difficult for the department to hire minorities, the Star Tribune reported.
The Pioneer Press reported that MPD is in the process of replacing Gratzer because even after dropping standards, his testing is still eliminating a large number of minority applicants.
There is no information available as to whether they’ll reinstate psychological screening that complies with national best practices, or further reduce standards to silence critics.