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Mental health screenings for many prospective Baltimore police officers were far shorter than required by a city contract with the psychology firm hired to conduct the exams, an investigation by the city's inspector general has found.Nearly three-quarters...

Mental health screenings for Baltimore police officers were far shorter than required, inspector general finds

Mental health screenings for many prospective Baltimore police officers were far shorter than required by a city contract with the psychology firm hired to conduct the exams, an investigation by the city's inspector general has found.Nearly three-quarters...

Mental health screenings for Baltimore police officers were far shorter than required, inspector general finds

Mental health screenings for many prospective Baltimore police officers were far shorter than required by a city contract with the psychology firm hired to conduct the exams, an investigation by the city's inspector general has found.

Nearly three-quarters of officers and trainees interviewed by the Office of Inspector General said their pre-employment screenings with Psychology Consultants Associated lasted 30 minutes or less, according to a newly issued report by the office. The contract required at least an hourlong interview for each job candidate.

The inspector general is now recommending that the city's law department consider taking civil action against the firm alleging breach of contract.

"As a result of not complying with contractual requirements, PCA has caused the City an estimated loss of approximately $29,630," Inspector General Robert H. Pearre Jr. wrote in a memo Monday to the City Council.

An attorney for the Lutherville-based firm and its president, Dr. Kenneth Sachs, could not be reached for comment Monday.

The inspector general launched an investigation after receiving a complaint in May that PCA was rushing pre-hire mental exams for the police department.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake suspended the company's two-year, $730,000 contract with the city in August when the allegations became public. A spokesman for the mayor did not respond to a request for comment.

The company also provided counseling for officers and fitness-for-duty exams, among other services. The inspector general's investigation focused on the pre-employment mental exams.

The firm conducted about 560 of those examinations between April 2013, when the contract began, and August 2015, according to the inspector general's report.

The inspector general's office interviewed 92 officers and trainees. Of those, 32 said their pre-employment psychological interviews with PCA lasted between zero and 15 minutes, and 36 said they lasted between 16 and 30 minutes.

The company contracted to conduct mental health screens of aspiring Baltimore police officers is under investigation by the city's inspector general and legal department over allegations that it rushed those evaluations, according to city officials and documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

The...

The company contracted to conduct mental health screens of aspiring Baltimore police officers is under investigation by the city's inspector general and legal department over allegations that it rushed those evaluations, according to city officials and documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

The...

Twenty-four officers or trainees — 26 percent of those interviewed by the inspector general's office — said their psychological interviews with PCA lasted at least 31 minutes.

The contract requires that an "interview shall last a minimum of one hour per candidate," the report states.

According to the report, Sachs "espoused a different interpretation of the term interview."

"Dr. Sachs stated that an interview includes performing an assessment, a 40-45 minute interview, and the dictation of the report," the inspector general report states.

The inspector general's office recommended that the police department consult with an expert to determine the appropriate length for a pre-hire mental exam.

In a response to the investigation, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis wrote that the department "relies upon the expertise of mental health professionals to assess an applicant's suitability for a successful career in law enforcement."

"Cutting corners in the evaluation of an applicant puts the public and the Police Department at risk," Davis wrote in a letter to Pearre dated May 9.

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