ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. -- Forty-seven Northern California sheriff's deputies were stripped of their weapons and badges over the weekend after an audit revealed that they had received unsatisfactory scores on psychological exams.
A total of 30 worked at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and 17 were on assignment elsewhere in the county.
The deputies were notified on Friday night that they could no longer make arrests or carry firearms following an audit of psychological exams dating back to 2016 in which the officers got "unsatisfactory" scores.
What triggered the audit was a double homicide several weeks ago when 24-year-old Deputy Devon Williams was arrested for killing a husband and wife in their Northern California home.
It was later revealed that he had had a relationship with the woman and failed his law enforcement psychological exam.
"You have the sheriff's department essentially giving officers a free pass to carry a gun and a badge to do police work when they are completely unqualified and a failed one of the key components of whether you can be trusted with a gun and a badge which is to be psychologically stable," said Civil Rights attorney Adante Pointer.
The Alameda County Sheriff's Office said Monday that psychological testing standards have changed since 2016 and the 47 officers reassigned to desk jobs will undergo a new round of screening.
They said the earlier scores were due to immaturity.
"A lot of young people out of college don't do as well on the psychological exam as someone who has much more life experience," said Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly. "This has nothing to do with substance abuse issues or mental disorders or diagnoses. We believe testing scores will go up based on the number of years of service."
Others believe this could call into question all of the testimony, arrests, and encounters these officers have had.
"This opens up Pandora's box of problems and issues for the sheriff's department," said Pointer.
One officer has already been reinstated with a record of a later exam. The 46 others will be retested in the coming weeks.
"We are working hard to get them to the appointments and get the test done and return everybody back to full duty," said Kelly.