Calif. sheriff's deputies who were taken off duty after psych eval fails start to return

Sixteen officers retook psychological exams and were cleared for active duty again after passing them

By Rick Hurd
East Bay Times

ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. — More than a dozen Alameda County Sheriff's deputies taken off active duty last week because of unsatisfactory scores on their psychological exams have retaken the test and been returned to full duty, a spokesman for the agency said.

Sixteen officers had re-taken the exam by and were cleared to active duty again after passing it, sheriff's office spokesman Lt. Ray Kelly said via text Thursday. More deputies are expected to return within the next week, he said.

Last week, the sheriff's office acknowledged that 47 deputies were told to turn in their guns and move to desk duty after an internal audit revealed that each was hired despite failing the psychological test standards established by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). Most of those deputies worked at the county's Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

Kelly did not comment any further Thursday on the reinstatement of the deputies. He said the sheriff's office will address the matter after all of the other affected deputies take the test.

Also on Thursday, an official from POST said that it will conduct reviews of the personnel files of deputies in Alameda, Contra Costa County and San Francisco counties.

"It's simply going out to the other agencies in the other parts of the region to make sure the same thing that happened in Alameda County did not happen elsewhere," POST spokeswoman Meghan Poulos said Wednesday afternoon. "There is nothing to indicate anything is wrong."

Poulos also said that state reviewers will not have access to confidential aspects of it.

"Each person who is hired at any agency has a background file. It has their background investigation psychological exam, medical exam, etc.," Poulos said. "POST goes in and makes sure that everything that's supposed to be in your background file is there. There's a lot of misinformation going around about what we do. We don't see the exams, we don't see the medical profiles. We don't see the answers. We simply look for a pass or a fail."

The revelation about the deputies came after authorities charged a sheriff's deputy with two counts of murder in the execution-style slayings of Benison Tran, 57, and his wife, Maria Tran, 42, inside their Dublin home. The killings during the early hours of Sept. 7 happened less than two hours after the deputy, Devin Williams Jr., worked a shift at the jail.

The sheriff's office hired Williams in September 2021 after he failed to pass his probationary period with the Stockton Police Department.

Kelly last month said that Williams was "the reason for the audit, and he's the reason we discovered the background discrepancies."

Alameda County Chief Public Defender Brendon Woods last month said the revelation "could compromise hundreds of cases — closed and pending."

In the wake of that decision, state officials from POST will be reviewing

The sheriff's office did not release a list of the deputies released from active duty. Kelly said they received their same pay and benefits while sidelined.

Staff writer Jakob Rodgers contributed to this story.

(c)2022 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.) Visit the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.) at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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