What Should Psych Testing for Portland Cops Look Like?

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Pressed by community members and accountability advocates, Mayor Sam Adams in September balked at handing another five-year contract to the lone Lake Oswego-based psychologist who's been in charge of screening would-be Portland police officers for the past 13 years. Instead, Adams promised to reopen the bidding and work in more feedback both from citizens and the US Department of Justice.

Yesterday, Adams' office finally shed some more light on how that reboot will work—issuing a call for suggestions and ideas on how the city's screening process for cops could improve. According to a notice posted on the mayor's website, that feedback (due in two weeks!) would then be handed over to a still-undetermined "panel of experts" for review.

These processes are utilized in order to ensure that the candidate has a suitable temperament and personality to successfully perform the duties of a Community Police Officer.

We would love to hear from you. Are you a psychologist that would like to have input into these processes? Are you a community member that would like to share your ideas? Are you an expert or do you have experience in creating selection processes? Any and all comments are welcome.

Your submissions will be presented to a yet to be selected panel of experts. Potential members of this panel will consist of psychologists, human resources professionals, police process specialists, and community members. When you share your comments with us please be sure to tell us if you would also like to be considered to serve on the panel.

The call for change was led by the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform, which complained that the city fell short on promises its members would be included when the contract held by the city's current psychologist, David Corey, was to be re-bid. AMA members have questioned whether Corey has been effective in filtering out applicants and even current cops who might be prone either to violence or racial bias. Corey, however, was one of just two applicants for the post this summer, winning a selection panel's nod to keep working before Adams pulled back.

Corey, in an interview with the Oregonian published a month or so after we reported on Adams' public shift, said he looked "forward to reviewing the city's new specifications for the services and to preparing a responsive proposal."

But advocates like Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch, among those whose testimony helped sway Adams, says he remains skeptical. Especially amid the scramble that's marking Adams' impending departure from city hall.

"They're asking for input," Handelman says, noting the letter itself doesn't make clear the city might be trying to hire someone else for the job. "But we don't know if they'll be taking it."

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