47 deputies banned from active service for failing psychological assessments

Nearly 50 California sheriff’s deputies were banned from active duty on Friday because they failed psychological assessments dating back to 2016 – and should never have been hired, according to a report.

A total of 47 Alameda County sheriff’s deputies — about 5% of the force’s 1,000 members — were relieved of active duty and stripped of their weapons, local Fox affiliate KTVU reported.

The exodus was sparked by an MP who allegedly committed a double murder earlier this month. He had received a « Not suitable » remark on his psychic assessment, according to the outlet.

The deputy, Devin Williams Jr., 24, is charged with the massacre of a married couple in Dublin, California. He allegedly shot the couple inside their home on September 7 after working a double shift at Santa Rita prison.

Williams – who is believed to have had an affair with the woman – had failed his psychological exam, but was hired nonetheless in September 2021, KTVU reported, citing four sources familiar with the matter.

Due to liability issues, the sheriff’s department began checking which other deputies might have failed the tests but were still being hired.

The audit found that 47 deputies were on active duty, despite scoring “Not Fit” on their psychological assessments. Of those, 30 worked at the Santa Rita prison and the other 17 had jobs elsewhere, Kelly told the station.

Devin Williams Jr. allegedly killed a married couple inside his home after working a double shift.

The roughly 50 deputies were notified of their removal in a letter from Sheriff Gregory Ahern dated September 23.

“The Sheriff’s Office operates on information provided several years ago by POST that we can hire candidates who have received a ‘D. Unsuitable assessment,” Ahern wrote in the letter obtained by KTVU. « Unfortunately, it is not the case. »

Deputies who have been rated « Not Suitable » in their assessments cannot serve as a peace officer in California under state rules, he said.

“Our legal counsel has informed our office that you will not be permitted to carry a firearm and that you cannot make arrests based on probable cause, issue traffic tickets or perform any duties reserved for peace officers,” Ahern wrote.

Dublin Police Chief Garrett Holmes, left, and Alameda County Sheriff, Staff Sgt. Ray Kelly, right, attends a press conference announcing the arrest of Devin Williams Jr. on September 7, 2022 in Dublin, California.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has begun its audit for liability issues.

He promised to schedule another psychological test for each MP and resolve the matter quickly.

“Our intention is to resolve this issue as quickly as possible,” Ahern wrote. « We also intend to roll you back to full service status once you’ve achieved a ‘suitable’ conclusion. »

The 47 deputies will keep their salaries and benefits and will be placed on non-active duty assignments, according to the letter.

Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Ray Kelly confirmed to KTVU that the audit was prompted by Williams’ alleged crime.

« I know people are going to assume all these deputies are killers, » Kelly told the station. » But this is not true. This test tries to find out if you are psychologically fit for the job, to handle all the horrible things we see. At 22, sometimes you’re not.

Candidates for the job receive « Not suitable » results for a series of red flags, including mental health problems, financial problems, too many marriages and divorces or drug and alcohol problems, said a retired employee at KTVU.

He added that in the past applicants who failed the assessment were simply told they would not be hired, but the rules had become more lax under Ahern.

« I know it’s not good, » Kelly said. « But it’s not as bad as it sounds. »


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