Report: Thousands Of Texas Officers Not Certified As Mentally Fit For Duty

A scathing article by the Houston Chronicle regarding the ‘mental fitness’ of thousands of Houston area police officers is drawing national attention.

Last year, the Houston psychologist responsible for providing psychological evaluations for law enforcement applications, was indicted for not properly providing those examinations. Though the psychologist, Dr. Busick, had ‘signed off’ on the mental fitness of the officers, he never actually examined any of them face-to-face.  The Houston Chronicle has discovered that only a fraction have been retested and passed.

The scandal revealed widespread problems with mental health screenings and left more than a dozen local law enforcement agencies scrambling to balance hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential retesting costs against the liability of keeping an unfit officer on the streets.

In fact, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office has only retested 82 officers. This means that almost 2,000 other officers are roaming the streets with a badge and a gun, without having any psychological exam to prove they won’t break under pressure.  If you remember, it was just a couple of days ago that an officer went on a deadly shooting spree that left several either wounded or dead.

Square-bannerOne of those officers that was never rescreened,  already faces criminal charges and a civil lawsuit in an off-duty road-rage shooting. Reserve Officer Kenneth Caplan was charged after shooting a defenseless woman in the head. A civil lawsuit against Caplan and Dr. Busick stemming from the shooting says a proper evaluation would have uncovered a questionable work history. Caplan held 21 jobs over five years and had been fired from 12 before going to work for Precinct 6, according to the suit.

If Defendant Busick had conducted anything remotely resembling the required face-to-face interview and/or had performed anything remotely resembling an appropriate background interview, then … defendant Busick would have known that defendant Caplan likely failed to have the requisite psychological and emotional fitness/health to be a peace officer, the suit says.

Though the various police agencies, along with the state, had been warned several times that police officers were not being properly screened, they continued to ignore the warning. It took the courage of a would-be police officer to take down the fraudulent system. In an anonymous tip sent to everyone that would listen, the candidate stated:

I’m not sure this was a real ‘evaluation,’  the applicant said in a written complaint.  I wondered if my experience means there are some … deputies out there carrying weapons who had similar ‘evaluations’ as mine? If so, could there be some crazy deputies in Houston carrying weapons?

According to the Chronicle, many agencies have decided not to rescreen employees at all unless behavioral or job-related problems surface, despite recommendations from the state that all officers should be retested. .

True to the bottom-feeding nature of police unions, Harris County Deputies’ Organization President David Cuevas said,  “If the state is not making it mandatory that everyone should be rescreened … and people are adequately doing their job, then it’s not an issue.”

Hmm. I would think that Officer Caplan’s victim would strongly disagree with that assessment.