Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Employee Psychological Testing and the Wisconsin Police Shooting

Wisconsin_2 In the wake of the tragedy in Wisconsin surrounding the mass murder by a policy deputy of a number of his friends, it has come to light the perpetrator was not psychologically tested:

A young sheriff's deputy who opened fire on a pizza party and killed six people reportedly flew into a rage when he was rebuffed by his old girlfriend, and others at the gathering called him a "worthless pig. . . . .

The rampage raised questions in the remote northern Wisconsin community of 2,000 about how Peterson could have met requirements to become a law enforcement officer, especially after police acknowledged Monday that Peterson received no psychological screening before he was hired . . . .

Dr. Phil Trompetter, a police psychologist in Modesto, Calif., estimated at least 80 percent of
states require psychological testing of prospective officers.

"Wisconsin must be in a very small minority of states," he said.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice Law Enforcement Standards Board requires only that applicants be free of any emotional or mental condition that might hinder them in their duties. It does not say how that is determined.

Psychological testing is a tricky topic fraught with dangers of suits for employers for negligent hiring, defamation, and invasion of privacy.  But it seems that where the worker is one who will be carrying a firearm as part of his duties, it is negligent not to conduct some testing to make sure there is no obvious violent propensities.

You can't speculate what would have happened had this police deputy gone through testing, maybe nothing.  But it seems that such testing should have at least been required by the state.

Hat Tip:  Brian Harris


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