California sheriff finds 10% of deputies 'not suited' for duty

They've been stripped of their guns and arrest powers

California sheriff finds 10% of deputies 'not suited' for duty

A California sheriff’s department stripped 47 deputies – equivalent to 10% of the force – of their guns and arrest powers after they failed psychological exams.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office noted that it recently conducted an internal audit on all backgrounds from January 2016 to present.

“As a result of this audit, it was learned that the result of your Psychological Examination was listed by the psychologist who performed your evaluation as ‘D. Not Suited’,” read part of the letter the office sent to affected personnel, according to KTVU-TV, which obtained a copy of the letter.

Both the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and county counsel confirmed that officers with a ‘Not Suited’ evaluation “cannot serve as a police officer in the state of California,” continued the letter.

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The majority of deputies notified of the audit were hired between 2019 and 2022, according to the Los Angeles Times report citing Lt. Ray Kelly, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office said it had been operating “under information provided a number of years ago” by the California Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training, or POST, that candidates who receive a “D. Not Suited” evaluation could still be hired, but officials said they since have learned otherwise.

“We got faulty advice,” said Kelly. “We got that information from a commissioned POST rep, who told us that we could hire D scores and that they would be suitable, based on the totality of the background [check].”

The deputies are currently still with the department, receiving pay and benefits, according to the letter. They, however, will not be authorized to carry a firearm, make arrests based on probable cause, issue traffic citations or “perform any functions reserved for peace officers.”

They are required to re-test and get a C- grade to pass their evaluations and before they can return to duty.

Jose Bernal, a spokesperson for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, called the situation at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office “disturbing.”

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“This further highlights the egregious levels of dysfunction and corruption that have plagued the Sheriff’s Office for years. When the Ella Baker Center, our partners and thousands across Alameda County called for an audit of ACSO back in 2018, we already knew the harm that had been caused by Sheriff [Gregory] Ahern and his office,” Bernal said, according to the LA Times report.

There are five reasons the mental health of police officers needs to be a priority, according to Walden University. These include: 

  1. Police officers report higher rates of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  2. More police officers die by suicide than in the line of duty.
  3. Productivity is negatively affected by poor mental health.
  4. Most law enforcement officers do not seek care for mental health issues.
  5. Despite lack of treatment, mental health illnesses are prevalent among those with law enforcement jobs.

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