California sheriff removes guns, duties from 47 deputies

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has stripped 47 deputies of their firearms and peace officer duties after an internal review found they were never qualified for employment because they failed their psychological evaluations, authorities said.

In a letter to nearly four dozen MPs obtained by The Times, the department says it has launched an internal review of background checks and psychological assessments for those hired since January 2016.

“As a result of this examination, it was revealed that the result of your psychological examination was reported by the psychologist who conducted your evaluation as ‘D. Not suitable,'” the letter said. “Lots of research and up to date advice from POST [Police Officer Standards and Training] and County Counsel has confirmed that each candidate identified as ‘D. Not Suited’ cannot serve as a Peace Officer in the State of California.”

The Sheriff’s Office said it “worked based on information provided by the California Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) a few years ago that candidates earning a “D. The “Not Suitable” rating could still be dropped, but officials said they’ve learned something else since then.

“We were given wrong advice,” said Lt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. “We received this information from a designated POST representative who told us that we could discontinue D-Scores and based on the overall background they would be suitable [check].”

Kelly said MPs who need to be retested would now need a C grade to pass their assessments and return to duty.

But Megan Polous, a spokeswoman for POST, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the grading guidelines for POST-certified psychological exams have never changed. She said letter grades — like Cs or Ds — are not used to determine the results of POST-certified psychological assessments.

Kelly said a team of POST officers arrived at the background information department’s office Tuesday to review the files and discuss the results of the audit with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Officers.

The majority of deputies notified of the scrutiny were hired between 2019 and 2022, Kelly said, as Bay Area departments struggled to hire new law enforcement officers.

The review comes less than a month after the arrest of Alameda County Deputy Sheriff Devin Williams Jr., who is in custody on suspicion of murder in the “execution-style” killing of a couple. Kelly said during a Sept. 7 news conference that 24-year-old Williams passed all his psychiatric evaluations and background checks and has an “impeccable” record with the department, according to the KTVU.

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

“This further underscores the outrageous level of dysfunction and corruption that has plagued the sheriff’s office for years. When the Ella Baker Center, our partners, and thousands across Alameda County called for an ACSO audit in 2018, we already knew the damage the sheriff had done [Gregory] Ahern and his office,” Bernal said.

Ahern told the deputies in the letter that the sheriff’s office intends to “resolve this issue as soon as possible” and allow deputies to “return to their full service status upon receipt of an ‘appropriate’ finding.” The deputies are currently still with the department and are receiving salaries and benefits, according to the letter.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-09-27/alameda-county-sheriff-removes-guns-duties-from-47-deputies California sheriff removes guns, duties from 47 deputies

Alley Einstein

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