Baltimore PD

Images courtesy of Baltimore Police Department/City of Baltimore

Psych Firm Cut Corners on Evaluations of Baltimore Cops
| published August 6, 2015 |

By Thursday Review staff writers

The high-priced psychological company hired by Baltimore to evaluate police officers was conducting exams and evaluations of cops in less than 15 minutes each, despite city and state rules—clearly outlined in the contract—that the evaluations take no less than 45 apiece.

Maryland is now taking legal action against the firm, which may have introduced the abbreviated exams as a cost-cutting measure, according to the Associate Press and other media sources. The firm, already under contract for more work for the city and state, is now on contractual probation until the results of an investigation into the company’s practices is completed this summer.

The company, Psychological Consultants Associated, was hired by the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland after the death of Freddie Gray, an incident which triggered massive demonstrations and riots. After the incident, officials in Baltimore wanted expert medical advice on the mental stability, daily stresses, and potential for post-traumatic stress disorders (PSTD) which could be affecting officers and their performance.

Officials in Maryland also wanted to develop criteria to help screen out potentially violent cops, such as Lt. Brian Rice—hospitalized in 2012 after he was accused of removing a semi-automatic weapon from his trunk and threatening a woman who was the mother of his child. Rice was one of the five officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray earlier this year, and officials want to know why Rice was cleared by PCA for street duty.

Reports showed that the company’s president, Kenneth Sachs, and several of his employees, were conducting psychological exams on Baltimore police officers in about 15 minutes, and according to the testimony of some cops, less than 15 minutes. Few psychologists would concur that 15 minutes is adequate time to effectively evaluate the mental stability of an individual.

Police officials say that Psychological Consultants Associated (PCA) is the only firm contracted to handle the assessments of police officers in Baltimore, and that the contract will remain intact until the conclusion of the state’s investigation into the firm’s practices. PCA has over the years held plum contracts with at least a dozen law enforcement agencies in multiple jurisdictions in the state of Maryland. State investigators want to examine the records on how those screenings were handled as well, to determine if PCA maintained a pattern of under-evaluations of its patients—most of whom were police officers.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Protests Grow Violent in Some U.S. Cities; Thursday Review staff; TR Archives; December 8, 2014.