Portland Police Bureau posts job openings for two psychologists

By Andrea Damewood, Willamette Week, May 13, 2013

111105_occupy_portlandAs much as Portland’s police say they’re now the de facto psychological workers for the mentally ill on the city’s streets, they need mental help too.

The city is hiring contracted psychologist positions, one to conduct pre-hiring tests and another to test officers on staff who have gone through traumatic events or have had questions raised about their fitness.

READJob posting: Psychological Evaluations of Police Officer candidates

READJob posting: Psychological Evaluations of Certified Police Officers

It’s also a sign that the city may be parting ways with its longtime psychologist. The City Council renewed psychologist David M. Corey‘s contract last year with little discussion. And as The Oregonian reported, there have been complaints about Corey’s monopoly of the position, which he’s held for 13 years.

Though these two positions are intended to assess candidates and cops, not citizens, the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation of the police’s treatment of the mentally ill comes up in both job descriptions.

“PPB is currently in settlement negotiations with the United States Department of Justice, after the DOJ found PPB had engaged in a pattern or practice of using excessive force in encounters involving people with actual or perceived mental illness,” the descriptions read. “This agreement will have a significant impact on PPB’s training and policies.”

The questions posed to candidates offer a glimpse into the minds of hiring brass at the bureau.

“Describe your understanding of the importance of incorporating cultural competency in providing assessments for PPB,” reads one question in both postings. “In addition, specifically describe steps you will take in performing work for PPB to ensure there are no adverse impacts to female and diverse individuals.”

Both also call for doctoral-level psychologists who preferably have experience in law enforcement screening.

The pre-hire psychologist would conduct tests for “psychological suitability.” The other asks how a psychologist would run fitness for duty tests and also asks “how you would plan and implement a post-traumatic consultation system to assist PPB supervisors and managers to provide ongoing support to better mentor officers exposed to traumatic incidents and assimilate them back into the workforce.”

No salary for either job is mentioned, just a “competitive hourly rate.”