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Psych firm that screens Baltimore police under review

Psych firm that screens Baltimore police investigated for taking shortcuts in evaluations

Psych firm that screens Baltimore police under review

BALTIMORE (AP) -- A psychological firm paid to evaluate troubled Baltimore police, including a lieutenant charged in the killing of Freddie Gray, is under investigation by the city and has been put on probation by the state police for taking shortcuts in its mental health screenings of officers.

The Maryland State Police took action against Psychology Consultants Associated in June after an investigation showed the firm's president, psychologist Kenneth Sachs, and his employees and contractors were completing evaluations of officers' mental stability in 15 minutes instead of the 45 minutes required by the state contract, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Experts say 15 minutes is far too short to adequately conduct psychological assessments.

Baltimore's law department and inspector general are also investigating the firm's assessments of city police officers, said Kevin Harris, a spokesman for the city.

As part of his contract with the Baltimore City Police Department, Sachs assessed the mental health and fitness for duty of officers who were removed from active duty due to psychological problems.

That should have included Lt. Brian Rice, who in May was charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office in Gray's death from injuries suffered while in police custody. Five other officers were also charged in connection with Gray's death, which prompted mass protests, as well as looting and rioting.

It was the latest high-profile case of a black man dying in police custody.

Rice was hospitalized in April 2012 and had his guns confiscated by Carroll County sheriff's deputies. Rice was accused in June 2012 of removing a semi-automatic handgun from the trunk of his personal vehicle and threatening the mother of his child.

Baltimore Police declined to answer any questions about PCA, referring all queries to City Hall.

Harris, the city spokesman, said PCA is the department's sole contractor for psychological evaluations of officers. The contract is still active and will remain in place "pending the conclusion of the investigation," he said.

Richard Berger, a lawyer for Sachs, denied the allegations.

Dr. Lewis Schlosser, a police psychologist with the Institute for Forensic Psychology, said his pre-employment screening interviews take roughly 30 minutes. However, a fitness for duty assessment for an officer on administrative leave takes between one and two hours.

Additionally, Sachs and his firm are the subject of a lawsuit involving allegations of shoddy screenings. Baltimore police officer Angeline Todman, who had bipolar disorder, killed herself with her service weapon just five days after Sachs deemed her fit to return to active duty following two involuntary hospitalizations.


Updated : 2021-09-23 05:49 GMT+08:00