On Monday, the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) board in Colorado—which sets rules on how police officers are hired in the state—will decide on whether to ramp up psychological evaluation requirements, according to a report in the Denver Post.
According to the Post, psych evaluations are required when Colorado police are initially hired, but officers are not required to seek follow-up evaluations—and even those laws aren't always followed.
According to the Post, the state's police discipline system is more lenient than at least 39 other states. In Colorado, the certificate required for law enforcement can be revoked only following a conviction on a felony or certain misdemeanors. Most states allow for such revocations to occur for far less, such as misconduct on the job, personnel transgressions, or ongoing drug abuse.
And, as the Post pointed out in July, there are serious consequences to the low standards:
Colorado's lenient police discipline system allows rogue officers to jump from department to department despite committing transgressions that would bar them from law enforcement jobs in many states.
And Colorado has seen violent results from the apparently shoddy system. Former Colorado police officer James Ashby has been charged with second degree murder after shooting and killing a 27-year-old man in October of last year. And just days before that shooting, he reportedly violated police rules when he tackled a suspect.
The Colorado attorney general's website notes that, currently, the requirements for psychological evaluations could vary across agencies:
After receiving POST certification, an individual must meet additional requirements before being appointed as a peace officer. State law requires a physical examination and a psychological evaluation of an applicant be completed before any such applicant may be appointed. The hiring agency determines the scope of the examination and evaluation. The hiring agency also determines standards of acceptability of such results.
One Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training official, vice chairman and Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper, told the Denver Post, "You've just absolutely got to do everything you can to adequately assess their integrity and mental stability… There's no doubt about it."
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.