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«BOSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT, Respondent Appellant’s Attorney: Leah H. Barrault, Esq. Pyle, Rome, Lichten, Ehrenberg & Liss-Riordan, PC 18 Tremont ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS

SUFFOLK, SS. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION

One Ashburton Place: Room 503

Boston, MA 02108

(617) 727-2293

MELISSA HART,

Appellant

v. G1-06-43

BOSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT,

Respondent

Appellant’s Attorney: Leah H. Barrault, Esq.

Pyle, Rome, Lichten, Ehrenberg & Liss-Riordan, PC 18 Tremont Street: Suite 500 Boston, MA 02108 (617) 367-7200 lbarrault@prle.com Respondent’s Attorney: Tsuyoshi Fukuda, Esq.

Office of the Legal Advisor Boston Police Department One Schroeder Plaza Boston, MA 02120 (617) 343-5034 Fukudat.bpd@boston.ma.us HRD Attorney: Martha Lipchitz-O’Connor, Esq.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Human Resources Division One Ashburton Place: Room 211 Boston, MA02108 (617) 878-9766 Martha.l.oconnor@state.ma.us Commissioner: Christopher C. Bowman

DECISION

Pursuant to the provisions of G.L. c. 31, § 2(b), the Appellant, Melissa Hart (hereafter “Hart” or Appellant”) seeks review of the Personnel Administrator’s decision to accept the reasons of the Boston Police Department (hereafter “Appointing Authority”, “City” or “BPD”), bypassing her for original appointment to the position of police officer as she was deemed to be psychologically unfit for appointment to the position. A full hearing was held on September 8, 2006 and October 17, 2006 at the offices of the Civil Service Commission. Six (6) tapes were made of the hearing.

FINDINGS OF FACT:

Forty-three (43) exhibits were entered into evidence at the hearing. Based on these

exhibits and the testimony of the following witnesses:

For the Appointing Authority:

Dr. Julia M. Reade;

For the Appellant:

Melissa Hart, Appellant;

Lt. Matthew Spillane;

Dr. James C. Beck;

Dr. Mark S. Schaefer;

I make the following findings of facts:

1. The Appellant is a twenty-six (26) year old female from Dorchester who has worked for the Boston Police Department as a Communications Equipment Operator from April 1999 to present. (Testimony of Appellant)

2. The Appellant’s mother has been a police officer with the Boston Police Department for twenty-six (26) years and the Appellant testified that she has always wanted to be a police officer. (Testimony of Appellant)

–  –  –

a ninety-four (94). (Testimony of Appellant)

4. On December 12, 2005, the Appellant’s name appeared on Certification 251238 for the position of female police officer for the Boston Police Department. (Stipulated Facts & Exhibit 32)

5. On or about November 29, 2005, the Appellant met with the Department’s Recruitment Investigations Unit and provided them with her Student Officer Application, three (3) letters of personal reference, supervisor/human resources data forms and three confidential neighborhood assessment forms. (Stipulated Facts and

–  –  –

6. On January 30, 2006, the Department offered the Appellant a conditional offer of employment as a police officer contingent upon successfully completing the medical and psychological screening components of the hiring process. (Exhibit 1)

7. The Boston Police Department had previously submitted a psychological screening plan to the state’s Human Resource Division (HRD) which was approved by HRD in July 2004. (Exhibit 33)

8. On January 26, 2006, the Appellant completed the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) and the Personality Assessment Inventory (“PAI”). (Stipulated

–  –  –

9. Dr. Schaefer, a licensed psychologist who testified on behalf of the Appellant, testified that the MMPI-2 is the “best researched, grand-daddy of tests” and that it can either be scored by computer or by hand. (Testimony of Dr. Schaefer)

–  –  –

computer. (Testimony of Dr. Schaefer) Summary of MMPI-2 and PAI computer-generated reports

11. The MMPI-2 “Profile Validity” indicated that the Appellant “presented herself in an overly favorable light, minimizing her faults and attempting to make a favorable impression. Her responses to the MMPI-2 items probably do not present an accurate picture of her personality. The clinical profile is likely to underestimate any problems she is having.” (Exhibit 3)

12. The MMPI-2 Personal Adjustment indicated that, “although her response pattern is generally defensive, as indicated in the validity section of this report, interpretations are provided for the clinical and content scales. It should be kept in mind that the applicant has not cooperated sufficiently with the evaluation to provide an open appraisal.” (Exhibit 3)

13. The MMPI-2 also noted in the Possible Employment Problems section that “in terms of personality, law enforcement applicants with this MMPI-2 profile tend to be, in some respects, well suited for police work. They can function independently and can tolerate situations well. Individuals with this profile are typically presenting the impression that they are well adjusted, manage psychological and interpersonal conflict well, and are highly motivated to work. It should be kept in mind that this applicant’s approach to the test was defensive and that she gave an overly favorable self-appraisal. Had she responded more openly, she may have endorsed more symptoms.” (Exhibit 3)

–  –  –





and inflexible in her thinking” and “may be unusually sensitive to criticism.” (Exhibit 3)

15. The PAI noted that the Appellant would have a “moderate risk of receiving a ‘poorly suited’ rating;’ a “high risk” of job-related problems, integrity problems, alcohol use concerns, illegal drug use concerns and substance abuse proclivity; and a “moderate risk” of anger management problems. (Exhibit 4) Opinions of Appointing Authority Psychiatrists (Dr. Marcia Scott & Dr. Julia M. Reade)

16. Subsequent to taking the MMPI-2 and PAI examinations, the Appellant was interviewed by two Appointing Authority psychiatrists, Dr. Marcia Scott and Dr. Julia M. Reade. Dr. Reade testified at the Commission hearing for the Appointing Authority.

17. The Appellant’s interview with Dr. Scott lasted approximately fifteen minutes.

(Testimony of Appellant)

18. Based on the interview with the Appellant, Dr. Scott reported that, “throughout the interview she smiled with little affect and was unable to think about or discuss negative material that surfaced in the record, interview and testing. She could acknowledge past behaviors that were documented but confronted with those difficulties she tended to blame others or circumstances or say it was a long time ago.

She could never reflect on reasons for past problems, imperfections or negative test results.” (Exhibit 5)

19. Dr. Scott summarized that, “Ms. Hart appears to manage internal stresses with unrealistic denial and externalization to maintain rigid control. She had an episode of

–  –  –

early adulthood. Since then she has worked in the Department in a responsible structured job and done well. However, interview and testing reflect severe anxiety and underlying impulsivity. She had little ability to reflect on the traits that led to her adolescent behavior. She would not reflect on and at times said she did not remember her reasoning in stressful situations.” (Exhibit 5)

20. Dr. Scott concluded that, “there is no current evidence of an Axis I mental disorder or current mental impairment, but her history, interview and testing indicate personality traits that would interfere with her ability to manage the stresses and make the judgments required of an armed police officer.” (emphasis added) (Exhibit 5)

21. On February 14, 2006, the Appellant was interviewed by Dr. Julia M. Reade, an Appointing Authority psychiatrist, for a “Second Opinion Psychiatric Review”.

(Exhibit 6)

22. Dr. Reade is a Board Certified psychiatrist who has worked for the BPD for 8-9 years conducting Second Level Psychiatric Interviews for police officer recruits. She is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and Forensic Psychiatry and has extensive experience in Law and Psychiatry as well as Occupational Psychiatry. (Testimony of Dr. Reade and Exhibit 43)

23. Dr. Reade has conducted approximately 200 Second Level Psychiatric Screenings for the Boston Police Department. (Testimony of Dr. Reade)

24. Dr. Reade conducts Second Level Psychiatric Screening interviews when Dr. Scott deems an applicant as not psychologically fit to be a Boston police officer and when an applicant was psychologically bypassed in the past, has reapplied and subsequently

–  –  –

25. Dr. Reade has overruled Dr. Scott or the first level screener and has deemed recruits as psychologically fit to be Boston police officers approximately 10%-20% of the time. (Testimony of Dr. Reade)

26. Dr. Reade testified that the Department’s Psychological Screening Process is in place because the Boston Police Officer position is a complicated job, a high stakes job, that requires autonomy, the ability to get along well with others, adjust to difficult circumstances, review and be accountable for your own behaviors, adjust to a hierarchal structure, be flexible, deal with very high levels of stress and deal with high levels of boredom. She also testified that the process is important to protect the safety of the general public; the safety of the actual recruit/police officer; the safety of their partner(s); and the reputation of the Department. (Testimony of Dr. Reade)

27. After the interview, Dr. Reade generated a summary report that was not meant to be an exhaustive report that delineates every specific detail, reason and rationale for her recommendation to bypass. (Testimony of Dr. Reade and Exhibit 6)

28. Prior to the interview, Dr. Reade reviewed the Appellant’s background documents, including the recruit investigation file and personal data questionnaire, and her MMPI-2 and PAI test scores/results. (Testimony of Dr. Reade)

29. Dr. Reade used the MMPI-2 and the PAI to help focus her inquiry during her interview with the Appellant. (Testimony of Dr. Reade)

30. Dr. Reade did not base her recommendation to bypass solely on the Appellant’s MMPI-2 and PAI test results. (Testimony of Dr. Reade)

–  –  –

recorded in her summary report, which in part, stated, “[s]he was notably tense, neatly dressed, attractive, and her grooming was adequate. She smiled fixedly throughout the interview and gave short, evasive unresponsive answers to my questions. She jiggled her foot anxiously and fidgeted intermittently. When asked to provide details – even about neutral or positive topics, Ms. Hart looked frozen and panic-stricken, and offered sparse and concrete responses.... When asked about more emotionally charged events, like the absence of her father from her life, Ms.

Hart gave little to no information, even in response to specific questions, and repeatedly stated that she had never wondered about or missed her father. She was similarly unforthcoming about when asked about her juvenile criminal record, her reasons for transferring high schools, and her decision to leave Bunker Hill Community College after a semester.... Ms. Hart could not discuss her adolescent drug use, her brief psychological treatment, her car accidents or her decision to take time off after high school. She was unable to reflect on any of her decisions or to consider her role in a given event.” (Exhibit 6)

32. Dr. Reade concluded her report stating that, “[w]ith respect to her ability to function as a police officer, Ms. Hart, in my opinion, would have significant difficulties because of her profound anxiety, her evasiveness, her difficulty managing stressful emotional situations and her lack of insight into her actions or decisions.” (Exhibit 6)

33. At the Commission hearing, Dr. Reade testified that the Appellant’s anxiety level at the interview was “off the charts”; that she became “panic-stricken” when asked

–  –  –

asked other routine questions. (Testimony of Dr. Reade)

34. In a letter dated April 3, 2006 from Robin W. Hunt, the Boston Police Department Human Resources Director, the Appellant was informed, among other things, that the “results of your psychological screening indicate that you cannot adequately perform the essential functions of the public safety position for which you have applied and a reasonable accommodation is not possible. Therefore you will not be appointed as a police officer at this time.” (Exhibit 8)

35. In a letter dated April 3, 2006, the BPD notified HRD that the Appellant failed to meet the psychological criteria for appointment as a police officer and that it was bypassing her for the position of female police officer. Specifically, the BPD stated that it was relying upon Dr. Reade’s second opinion report, concurred to by Dr.

Marcia Scott, which psychologically disqualified the Appellant. (Exhibit 9)

36. On June 15, 2006, HRD accepted the Department’s reasons for bypassing the Appellant. (Exhibit 10) Opinions of Appellant Psychiatrists (Dr. Mark Schaefer & Dr. James Beck)

37. On July 28, 2006, Dr. James Beck interviewed and performed an independent psychological consultation of the Appellant. (Exhibit 40)

38. Dr. Beck is a licensed psychologist and board certified psychiatrist who is a graduate of Harvard and Yale. He has taught at the Harvard Medical School for over thirty (30) years. Dr. Beck has conducted numerous police “fitness for duty” interviews, but was unable to recall if had participated in any “prescreening” for police recruits.

(Testimony of Dr. Beck)

–  –  –

Division (then the Personnel Administration) and participated in earlier versions of HRD’s regulations with respect to psychological evaluations. He has never worked with the City of Boston Police Department. (Testimony of Dr. Beck)



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