Cops that have been deemed good enough at their job to wear an NYPD or state police shield are being called mentally unfit to protect the Holland Tunnel.
Over 70% of the men and women looking to join the Port Authority Police and who have passed the written exam are failing the psychological exam, even though many of them are currently working for the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies.
The list of rejected officers is in the thousands.
“They are dropping people left and right and blaming it on the psychological exam,” said a high-ranking law enforcement source with knowledge of the vetting process. “Some of the people being dismissed are already cops. What does that say about the agency that hired them?
“If you’re coming up with numbers like that, you really need to look at yourself — there is something wrong with your system,” the source went on.
This rate of failure has been trending for several years already. Historically, over 20,000 people take the written exam to be part of the Port Authority force each year. These are the men and women who protect airports, trains, the Midtown bus terminal as well as bridges and tunnels linking New York to New Jersey. It’s an important job because these are high profile terror targets.
This is an exam graded on a curve but generally 65% of test takers pass the exam. That narrows it down to about 13,000 and from there, another 9,100 are cut for failing the psychological exam.
“[That’s] double or triple that of any other law enforcement agency that we are aware of,” said Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association. “It seems almost impossible that there could be a legitimate medical need to fail that many candidates.”
The exam in question is a standard questionnaire based on the Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a test that is used all over the country to assess mental health. They are also interviewed by a psychologist.
Many of those rejected are already New Jersey and New York cops which calls up an ethical concern.
“If they determine that someone is unfit to be a Port Authority police officer and they already carry a gun, they should be obligated to inform the agency that person works for, but they don’t,” the high-ranking source said.
Some of those dismissed are decorated veterans, says Robert Egbert, the benevolent association’s spokesperson.
“We are concerned about the lack of veterans becoming Port Authority police officers,” Egbert said. “It seems the Port Authority is hiding behind a subjective exam and saying to these courageous men and women, ‘You are not good enough.’”
According to the Port Authority there is a reason for the high rate of failure.
“[It’s] a reflection of some reforms put in place to date,” the agency said in a statement.
“The Port Authority’s ambition is to have the highest-quality police force possible. In pursuit of that ambition, the agency has been reviewing the selection process for police recruits.
“The review and revision process for police recruitment standards is currently midstream, with multiple aspects still being studied and under consideration,” the PA said. “Medical and psychological standards are among those still being reviewed, with the goal of implementing a revised set of standards in early 2018.”