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47 Alameda County sheriff's deputies moved to desk jobs after audit finds they failed psychological exams

Internal review comes in wake of deputy being charged for double homicide in Dublin

Alameda County sheriff's officials believe 47 deputies who allegedly failed a psychological exam and now have desk jobs will pass the exam when they retake it and get their guns and peace officer powers back, a sheriff's spokesperson said Tuesday.

Alameda County Sheriff's Office logo.

The comment follows a sheriff's office audit that resulted in the deputies' loss of powers. That audit was prompted by the fatal shooting Sept. 7 of two people allegedly by then-Deputy Devin Williams Jr. of Stockton.

Williams, 24, has been charged with double murder for allegedly shooting a woman he was dating and her husband at the couple's home in Dublin.

"We believe the deputies will likely pass the retest," sheriff's spokesperson Lt. Ray Kelly said Tuesday.

The deputies reassigned represent less than 5% of the force. Thirty of the 47 deputies were assigned to Santa Rita Jail and 17 were assigned to other duties, including patrol, Kelly said.

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Sheriff's officials told the Alameda County District Attorney's Office about the reassignments and are unaware of any conflicts with criminal cases. But Kelly said they will keep an eye on that possibility.

A spokesperson for the District Attorney's Office said the office is evaluating the potential impact.

Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods issued a statement Tuesday, saying, "If these deputies were not fit for duty, then how can we trust them to investigate our clients and testify against them in court? How can we trust them to treat people properly at the jail?"

Woods said the "revelation could compromise hundreds of cases -- closed and pending."

But Woods said he needs "more information from the Sheriff and the District Attorney's Office."

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He said, "it's infuriating we had to learn about it (the reassignments) from the press."

The audits were conducted on all background investigations performed between January 2016 and the present, Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern wrote in a Friday letter to the deputies.

Each of the deputies who were reassigned received a "D-Not Suited" score on the psychological exam.

Ahern said in his letter that the sheriff's office was under the impression that applicants could be hired if they received such a score.

That information was provided "years ago" from the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, which sets "minimum selection and training standards for California law enforcement," according to Ahern.

"Unfortunately, this is not the case," Ahern wrote about the impression his office had.

Sheriff's officials and the county counsel for Alameda County researched that impression and found that it was in error.

No one from the commission responded to an email inquiry or calls about the reassignment of the deputies.

Ahern told the deputies in the letter that they can get a second opinion regarding their initial exam results. If the deputies receive a "Suitable" score, Ahern "can choose to hire the candidate."

Sheriff's officials intend to schedule retake exams for the 47 deputies. All 47 will retain their pay and benefits and can continue to work for the sheriff's office.

The deputies cannot carry a gun, make any arrests, issue traffic citations "or perform any function for peace officers," Ahern wrote.

"Our intention is to resolve this issue as quickly as possible," Ahern said. "We also intend to have you return to full duty status once you obtain a 'Suitable' finding."

Ahern is in the final months as sheriff-coroner. Sheriff-Elect Yesenia Sanchez, a commander in the sheriff's office, defeated her boss and another candidate outright in the June primary election with 52.84% of the vote. Sanchez is scheduled to take office in January.

The future of the criminal cases involving these deputies may also be impacted by voters this year. With current District Attorney Nancy O'Malley retiring, two candidates – civil rights attorney Pamela Price and chief deputy DA Terry Wiley – are facing each other in a runoff election to win the DA seat in the Nov. 8 general election.

Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern's letter to sheriff's deputies who allegedly failed a psychological exam as part of their background investigation (Image courtesy ACSO, via BCN)

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47 Alameda County sheriff's deputies moved to desk jobs after audit finds they failed psychological exams

Internal review comes in wake of deputy being charged for double homicide in Dublin

by Keith Burbank / Bay City News Service

Uploaded: Tue, Sep 27, 2022, 9:57 pm

Alameda County sheriff's officials believe 47 deputies who allegedly failed a psychological exam and now have desk jobs will pass the exam when they retake it and get their guns and peace officer powers back, a sheriff's spokesperson said Tuesday.

The comment follows a sheriff's office audit that resulted in the deputies' loss of powers. That audit was prompted by the fatal shooting Sept. 7 of two people allegedly by then-Deputy Devin Williams Jr. of Stockton.

Williams, 24, has been charged with double murder for allegedly shooting a woman he was dating and her husband at the couple's home in Dublin.

"We believe the deputies will likely pass the retest," sheriff's spokesperson Lt. Ray Kelly said Tuesday.

The deputies reassigned represent less than 5% of the force. Thirty of the 47 deputies were assigned to Santa Rita Jail and 17 were assigned to other duties, including patrol, Kelly said.

Sheriff's officials told the Alameda County District Attorney's Office about the reassignments and are unaware of any conflicts with criminal cases. But Kelly said they will keep an eye on that possibility.

A spokesperson for the District Attorney's Office said the office is evaluating the potential impact.

Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods issued a statement Tuesday, saying, "If these deputies were not fit for duty, then how can we trust them to investigate our clients and testify against them in court? How can we trust them to treat people properly at the jail?"

Woods said the "revelation could compromise hundreds of cases -- closed and pending."

But Woods said he needs "more information from the Sheriff and the District Attorney's Office."

He said, "it's infuriating we had to learn about it (the reassignments) from the press."

The audits were conducted on all background investigations performed between January 2016 and the present, Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern wrote in a Friday letter to the deputies.

Each of the deputies who were reassigned received a "D-Not Suited" score on the psychological exam.

Ahern said in his letter that the sheriff's office was under the impression that applicants could be hired if they received such a score.

That information was provided "years ago" from the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, which sets "minimum selection and training standards for California law enforcement," according to Ahern.

"Unfortunately, this is not the case," Ahern wrote about the impression his office had.

Sheriff's officials and the county counsel for Alameda County researched that impression and found that it was in error.

No one from the commission responded to an email inquiry or calls about the reassignment of the deputies.

Ahern told the deputies in the letter that they can get a second opinion regarding their initial exam results. If the deputies receive a "Suitable" score, Ahern "can choose to hire the candidate."

Sheriff's officials intend to schedule retake exams for the 47 deputies. All 47 will retain their pay and benefits and can continue to work for the sheriff's office.

The deputies cannot carry a gun, make any arrests, issue traffic citations "or perform any function for peace officers," Ahern wrote.

"Our intention is to resolve this issue as quickly as possible," Ahern said. "We also intend to have you return to full duty status once you obtain a 'Suitable' finding."

Ahern is in the final months as sheriff-coroner. Sheriff-Elect Yesenia Sanchez, a commander in the sheriff's office, defeated her boss and another candidate outright in the June primary election with 52.84% of the vote. Sanchez is scheduled to take office in January.

The future of the criminal cases involving these deputies may also be impacted by voters this year. With current District Attorney Nancy O'Malley retiring, two candidates – civil rights attorney Pamela Price and chief deputy DA Terry Wiley – are facing each other in a runoff election to win the DA seat in the Nov. 8 general election.

Comments

Petra Walters
Registered user
Walnut Creek
on Sep 28, 2022 at 12:21 pm
Petra Walters, Walnut Creek
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2022 at 12:21 pm

Given this report, the Alameda County Sheriff's Department obviously needs to improve its psychological vetting and hiring practices.

We do not need sociopaths with badges and guns.


Robert Kane
Registered user
Walnut Creek
on Sep 29, 2022 at 1:09 pm
Robert Kane, Walnut Creek
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2022 at 1:09 pm

47 suspended deputies is a large number of psychologically-impaired law enforcement officers.

Their arrest records should also be scrutinized for possible lies and embellishments with retrials or outright release of those directly impacted or wrongfully imprisoned.


Jennifer
Registered user
Danville
on Sep 30, 2022 at 5:34 pm
Jennifer, Danville
Registered user
on Sep 30, 2022 at 5:34 pm

It's not just "sociopaths" that fail the psychological test. The psychological test is the hardest test to pass. They obviously passed at one time. A friend of mine failed the psychological test years ago, and he told me he thinks he failed because he didn't have the mental wherewithal to be an officer. IMO, he was too nice. Officers have to be tough, but fair.


Jacob Klein
Registered user
another community
on Oct 2, 2022 at 7:36 am
Jacob Klein, another community
Registered user
on Oct 2, 2022 at 7:36 am

I kind of doubt that the majority of the 47 officers who failed the psychological test did so on account of being 'too nice.'

It probably had more to do with temperament and racial attitudes.


Carrie Peterson
Registered user
Walnut Creek
on Oct 2, 2022 at 9:50 am
Carrie Peterson, Walnut Creek
Registered user
on Oct 2, 2022 at 9:50 am

The Alameda County Sheriff's Department has approximately 700 sworn officers (deputies).

And 47 out of 700 comes to roughly 7% of them with psychological issues or mental disorders.

Is having 7% of the deputies in the Alameda County Sheriff's Department with psychological problems/issues a reasonable percentage to ensure public safety and the proper treatment of suspects and arrestees?


Horst Bueller
Registered user
San Ramon
on Oct 2, 2022 at 2:29 pm
Horst Bueller, San Ramon
Registered user
on Oct 2, 2022 at 2:29 pm

These suspensions and subsequent mental examinations may have been triggered by that recent Dublin shooting incident where an off-duty Alameda County Deputy murdered two people.

Sadly, it often takes a preventable tragedy to fully address and resolve matters.

Given the combative and abrasive personalities of countless law enforcement officers, these suspensions were probably warranted.


Justin Lange
Registered user
San Ramon
on Oct 3, 2022 at 12:01 pm
Justin Lange, San Ramon
Registered user
on Oct 3, 2022 at 12:01 pm

"Is having 7% of the deputies in the Alameda County Sheriff's Department with psychological problems/issues a reasonable percentage to ensure public safety and the proper treatment of suspects and arrestees?"

^ Not if the 7% are carrying firearms with the right to detain and arrest.


Lucille Walters
Registered user
Walnut Creek
on Oct 3, 2022 at 12:36 pm
Lucille Walters, Walnut Creek
Registered user
on Oct 3, 2022 at 12:36 pm

Since the police have the right to arrest and detain individuals, they must be held to a higher authority even in regards to their personal lives and outside affairs.

In other words, no substance abuse issues, domestic violence records, restraint orders, major traffic violations, or signs of any mental and emotional instabilities.

If law enforcement officers cannot meet these basic criterias, they should not be wearing a badge and carrying a gun, period.


Kayleigh Johnson
Registered user
Danville
on Oct 4, 2022 at 8:22 am
Kayleigh Johnson, Danville
Registered user
on Oct 4, 2022 at 8:22 am

Does the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department also screen their officers for mental issues?


Haley Donnegan
Registered user
San Ramon
on Oct 4, 2022 at 10:51 am
Haley Donnegan, San Ramon
Registered user
on Oct 4, 2022 at 10:51 am

> "It's not just "sociopaths" that fail the psychological test....A friend of mine failed the psychological test years ago, and he told me he thinks he failed because he didn't have the mental wherewithal to be an officer. IMO, he was too nice."

^ There is no such thing as a "nice" police officer. They have a job to do and must be prepared for whatever transpires.

You are confusing politeness with nice and there is a big difference between the two.


Jennifer
Registered user
Danville
on Oct 4, 2022 at 12:28 pm
Jennifer, Danville
Registered user
on Oct 4, 2022 at 12:28 pm

The psychological exam for LE tests the psychological fortitude required to take on the specific demands of rigorous police work.


Harrison Tamaki
Registered user
Danville
on Oct 5, 2022 at 9:13 am
Harrison Tamaki, Danville
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2022 at 9:13 am

• The psychological exam for LE tests the psychological fortitude required to take on the specific demands of rigorous police work.

^ How often are these mental stability tests administered?

47 deputies being relegated to desk duty is a seemingly high number (7%) of mentally unfit law enforcement officers.


Malcolm Hex
Registered user
San Ramon
on Oct 5, 2022 at 9:38 am
Malcolm Hex, San Ramon
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2022 at 9:38 am

Oh boy… Now, I’m quite sure there are some pro-cop, as well as anti-cop, folk in this crowd; including an assortment of mixed nuts somewhere in between. Having said that, let us depart into the world of reality and leave planet pretend behind - at least for the moment. Where to start…

Ah! Petra said we don’t need sociopaths with guns. I ,would agree. However, psychological tests given to law enforcement officers are not general aptitude psych tests; nor do they determine one’s sanity.

Jacob Klein, that of the anti-cop militia, stated that the failed psychological testing of said amount of officers, probably had more to do with temperament and racial attitudes. And you know this how, Mr. Klein? Without evidence, your case wouldn’t go to trial, much less stand any type of reasoning. Just the facts please.

Carrie Peterson stated for the record, 47 out of the 700 deputies comes to roughly 7% of them with psychological issues or mental disorders. Mental disorders? The police psychological exam isn't an evaluation of a candidate's mental health. If a candidate fails the test, it isn't an indication that they have underlying mental health issues. It simply means that they aren't a good fit for a career as a police officer.

Now, this one’s a gem! Horst Bueller‘s Day Off made the following drivel: “Given the combative and abrasive personalities of countless law enforcement officers…” I would add, blah, blah, but you get the picture. When you say countless, by what percentage would you estimate? Have you met that many law enforcement officers?

Lucille, so far you and Jennifer are the only ones here that has make sense. Nice job. Law enforcement officers should be held to a higher standard. In fact, you should read the recent case that just wrapped up in Los Angeles: United States vs Babak Broumand. He was found guilty and is awaiting sentencing in January. It’s quite a story - and to your point.

Hex out 10-7OD








Keshawn Jackson
Registered user
another community
on Oct 5, 2022 at 12:22 pm
Keshawn Jackson, another community
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2022 at 12:22 pm

"The police psychological exam isn't an evaluation of a candidate's mental health. If a candidate fails the test, it isn't an indication that they have underlying mental health issues. It simply means that they aren't a good fit for a career as a police officer."

What constitutes a 'good fit' in law enforcement...a predisposition to shoot first and ask questions later, bullying citizens without provocation, falsifying arrest reports?

If so, only a few actually qualify and this is a good sign.




Jennifer
Registered user
Danville
on Oct 5, 2022 at 1:19 pm
Jennifer, Danville
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2022 at 1:19 pm

And Malcom makes sense too. The anti-cop crowd is sad. Police officers are doing their jobs, and society needs to quit committing crimes. If you're a law abiding citizen, you have nothing to worry about.


Mr. Urias
Registered user
another community
on Oct 6, 2022 at 8:48 am
Mr. Urias, another community
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2022 at 8:48 am

Is there also a physical fitness test and BMI requirements for law enforcement officers?

While the majority of police officers appear fit and within proper weight/height parameters, there are some who are seemingly overweight and out of shape...too many donuts?

A police officer should be able to run 600 yards under two minutes, bench press 2x his/her body weight, and capable of doing at least 60 situps.

This is important when it comes to chasing down and apprehending suspects as simply shooting them down will trigger an investigation.


Malcolm Hex
Registered user
San Ramon
on Oct 7, 2022 at 11:35 pm
Malcolm Hex, San Ramon
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2022 at 11:35 pm

Mr. Urias,

Every law enforcement officer must pass a physical agility test prior to entering the police academy. In fact, once in the academy, a cadet has to undergo continuous rigorous physical training prior to graduation. Now, you started off on the right foot Urias, but then should your bias against police officers. So typical.

You made the following statement: “This is important when it comes to chasing down and apprehending suspects as simply shooting them down will trigger an investigation.” Simply shooting them down, huh?

Have you ever been involved in an officer involved shooting? Or any self-defense situation that required the use of a firearm? You think it’s a simple process for an police officer to draw his firearm and kill someone? If you are that naive, I suggest you go for a ride-a-long some night in Oakland, Stockton, or San Jose, just to see the reality of what a law enforcement officers encounters while on patrol.

You might also inquire about participating in a Firearms Training System (FATS), which is an excellent training tool designed to develop and sharpen a police officer's discretionary skills as well as reinforce conflict resolution abilities. I guarantee you will come out on the losing end of several simulated deadly force scenarios. And only then will you appreciate what law enforcement officers deal with.







Mavis Young
Registered user
Walnut Creek
on Oct 8, 2022 at 6:42 am
Mavis Young, Walnut Creek
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2022 at 6:42 am

"If a candidate fails the test, it isn't an indication that they have underlying mental health issues. It simply means that they aren't a good fit for a career as a police officer."

Given the 47 Alameda County deputies now on suspension pending another psych exam, how many times do they get to retake the test?

Shouldn't they simply be discharged after flunking the first one?

How did they get hired in the first place?


Malcolm Hex
Registered user
San Ramon
on Oct 8, 2022 at 7:24 am
Malcolm Hex, San Ramon
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2022 at 7:24 am

Mavis,

Twelve Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies have returned to work after retaking a psychological exam. Sheriff Ahern said that he was told by POST - Peace Officer Standards and Training - that it was okay to hire candidates that received a D or Non-suitable recommendation. If,and, or why, this is true, just know that most departments hire only A through C-.


A Former Cop
Registered user
another community
on Oct 8, 2022 at 7:40 am
A Former Cop, another community
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2022 at 7:40 am

What many people don't seem to understand is that when a suspect is on probation or parole...they can be stopped at any time, searched without consent, and cannot be in possession of a firearm.
In other words, they surrender certain civil liberties in exchange for their early release.

In many instances, the police are dealing with an armed repeat offender who does not want to be sent back to jail.

A 'fight or flee' instinct often kicks in and this is where the problems begin.

A police shooting is oftentimes justified when/if a suspect is armed and the officer is firing in self-defense or to protect the public at large.

Shooting at an unarmed suspect is a questionable tactic and extreme caution must be exercised when apprehending them.

'Unecessary use of force' charges often arise when a suspect is manhandled during arrest or if officers fire excessive rounds at an unarmed suspect.

It is really up to the suspect to cooperate when stopped by the police.

I retired from the PD because I got tired of watching violent arrestees get early releases due to the overly progressive mindsets of our legislators.

Why risk one's life on a daily basis when systemic 'catch and release' protocols are firmly in place to protect the criminals?

It's far healthier (both mentally and physically) for me to do my 'catch and release' fly fishing in Montana.


Claudia Jenkins
Registered user
Danville
on Oct 8, 2022 at 8:36 am
Claudia Jenkins, Danville
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2022 at 8:36 am

"Unecessary use of force' charges often arise when a suspect is manhandled during arrest or if officers fire excessive rounds at an unarmed suspect."

^ In what instances would it ever be justifiable to shoot at an unarmed suspect?

Any law enforcement officer found guilty of such a blatant indescretion should be imprisoned along with his/her fellow arrestees and convicts.


Bruno Lentz
Registered user
Walnut Creek
on Oct 8, 2022 at 9:46 am
Bruno Lentz, Walnut Creek
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2022 at 9:46 am

Though the repercussions can be harsh, resisting arrest is an implied right under the U.S. Constitution.

Wrongful and false arrests are rarely prosecuted because police and court officials have 'qualified immunity' for any oversights pertaining to their regular duties.

As a result, an innocent person can be subjected to an unnecessary jailing with no legal recourse other than to contest the arrest at a court arraignment.


Malcolm Hex
Registered user
San Ramon
on Oct 8, 2022 at 8:06 pm
Malcolm Hex, San Ramon
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2022 at 8:06 pm

@Lentz

It is not an implied right. You made that up. The Constitution, through the Fourth Amendment, protects people from UNREASONABLE searches and seizures by the government.

And before you bring up qualified immunity, read up on Brady vs Maryland.


Malcolm Hex
Registered user
San Ramon
on Oct 9, 2022 at 1:25 am
Malcolm Hex, San Ramon
Registered user
on Oct 9, 2022 at 1:25 am

Hey Jenkins,

Know your facts. Here’s one: a professional fighter, boxer, mma, etc, is registered with a state athletic commission in order to fight. There have been cases where professional fighters have been shot and killed by law enforcement, Why? Because a professional fighter can make quick work of someone who is not trained as a fighter. In other words, police officers are not trained or licensed fighters, and wouldn’t stand a chance without another way of defending themselves.

The reality of a situation involving a professional fighter vs a 5’0” female police officer is this: the female officer would have every right to protect herself in accordance with the law given the scenario I described. Plus, if a suspect lunges at an officer in his effort to get the officer’s gun, the officer has every right to use deadly force.


Rick Billings
Registered user
Walnut Creek
on Oct 9, 2022 at 8:20 am
Rick Billings, Walnut Creek
Registered user
on Oct 9, 2022 at 8:20 am

"The Constitution, through the Fourth Amendment, protects people from UNREASONABLE searches and seizures by the government."

The police must have 'probable cause' in order to initiate a proper search and seizure of a suspect's person/property.

Police officers often disregard this preliminary requirement.

Unfounded suspicion, a personal dislike of the individual, and inherent racism does not equate to probable cause.

Fourth Amendment rights are often ignored by the cops...just ask anyone whose been stopped for a minor traffic infraction.


Billie Walsh
Registered user
another community
on Oct 9, 2022 at 10:29 am
Billie Walsh, another community
Registered user
on Oct 9, 2022 at 10:29 am

Speaking of the Fourth Amendment, in some jurisdictions the police are finally being held accountable for 'no knock' warrant arrests that result in mis-identities and wrongful police shootings.

A police arrest or shooting must be 'clean' and any deviation from proper legal procedure should unoquivically result in an acquittal or dismissal of charges regardless of the crime.


Erin Winslow
Registered user
Danville
on Oct 9, 2022 at 12:47 pm
Erin Winslow, Danville
Registered user
on Oct 9, 2022 at 12:47 pm

I have always considered law enforcement officers to be well-trained in their respective field but often wonder...since they spend time at the firing range on a regular basis, why does it often take 15+ rounds from 4-5 different officers to bring a suspect down?

While the suspect may be in motion, this still seems an excessive use of force.


Malcolm Hex
Registered user
San Ramon
on Oct 9, 2022 at 10:53 pm
Malcolm Hex, San Ramon
Registered user
on Oct 9, 2022 at 10:53 pm

From Rick:

“The police must have 'probable cause' in order to initiate a proper search and seizure of a suspect's person/property. Police officers often disregard this preliminary requirement.”

Police officers often disregard probable cause to initiate a proper search? Oh really, Rick? and you know this how? Got facts to support your claim? Prove it.

Your anti-cop bias is based on a claim you can’t prove.


Joaquin Delgado
Registered user
another community
on Oct 10, 2022 at 6:12 am
Joaquin Delgado, another community
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2022 at 6:12 am

'Probable cause' to search someone is discretionary and based on the suspicion of an illegal activity or possession.

It is a gray zone.


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