Sunday, May 28, 2017

Making Enemies Faster Than You Can Kill Them...,

themarshallproject |  When police officers return to work after a military deployment, they cannot be automatically required to sit for a mental health evaluation — the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act prohibits it. Because of the Americans With Disabilities Act, police departments can’t reject a job candidate for simply having a PTSD diagnosis.

The only time most of America’s law enforcement officers, military veterans or not, are required to sit for a mental health analysis is when they first apply to join a police force, and the rigor of the screening varies widely. Fewer than half of the nation’s smallest police departments conduct pre-employment psychological testing at all, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics

Many other departments offer “screenings” in name only — in some cases simply a computerized test with no face-to-face interview — says Stephen Curran, a Maryland police psychologist who has researched the transition from the military to policing.

 Where there is systematic testing of would-be police, military veterans are more likely to show signs of trauma. 

Matthew Guller, a police psychologist, is managing partner of a New Jersey firm, The Institute for Forensic Psychology, that works with about 470 law enforcement agencies across the Northeast, screening for impairment. 

Of nearly 4,000 police applicants evaluated by Guller’s firm from 2014 through October of 2016, those with military experience were failed at a rate higher than applicants who had no military history — 8.5 percent compared to 4.8 percent. 

The higher rates of trauma are exacerbated by the fact that service members suffering PTSD often aren’t diagnosed and keep quiet about their suffering. Although up to 20 percent of those deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD, only half get treated, according to a 2012 National Academy of Sciences study. Veterans are 21 percent more likely to kill themselves than adults who never enlisted, according to an August report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 

PTSD and traumatic brain injuries have been called the “signature injuries” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Experts say trauma is cumulative, so the transition from one potentially violent profession, the military, into another, policing, can compound the risk. 

Officers with a history of mental health problems — even those who have been treated and are now healthy — can pose a two-fold problem for departments who hire them. First, their history can become a liability if the department is sued. Second, it can be used to attack their credibility on the stand if they’re called to testify.