The state’s police oversight committee, Peace Officer Standards and Training board, announced Monday that the applicants for law enforcement jobs will have to pass psychological as well as physical tests. Moreover, officers with felony convictions will not be allowed to stay on the job.
Apparently, Colorado laws already require a complete mental health assessment before any police officer is hired. However, as the Denver Post reports, such checks are only carried out only the first time the person was hired – if it was practiced at all.
The ruling requires police officers to undergo both psychological and physical evaluations every time they transfer to another agency, if they have not gone through the tests within three years of the transfer.
“You’ve just absolutely got to do everything you can to adequately assess their integrity and mental stability,” Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper, vice chairperson of the POST board, said prior to Monday’s decision. “If I’m hiring someone, even if they’ve been an officer at another jurisdiction, I’m going to require them to go through it.”
The consequences of under-qualified police officers being given the power of deadly force have been disastrous. Just recently, an analysis revealed the number of manslaughter – or murder related charges – for on-duty incidents committed by police officers in the United States tripled from 2014 to 2015.
The new Colorado regulation will not be codified in the state law. However, failure to follow the policy may have some severe consequences.
“If a person doesn't comply with this, then they've got the potential to not be allowed to be certified as a police officer,” Camper added.
Although mental health evaluations cannot forecast or predict psychotic breaks among law enforcement officials, stricter hiring policies are certainly a step in the right direction.