letter is being published with the permission of its author who will
remain anonymous for obvious reasons. Any advice or words
encouragement for this officer can be sent to edpdlaw, and will be
forwarded to the officer.
just wanted to share with the members and visitors to the Excessive
Discipline Protection Database, my personal story of being subjected
to a Fitness for Duty Examination.
have been a policeman for twelve years and have worked for two
different law enforcement agencies. Prior to that I had volunteered
four years of my life in my town's Police Cadet Corps. My police
service is in New Jersey. Throughout the past 20 years I have
received medals for life saving and good conduct, saving another
officers life, saving a child's life, Medals of Merit, perfect
attendance, Mayoral Citations and numerous letters of praise from the
public I serve. I have never been sued, have never been previously
dismissed from a job. I have never been the target of an Internal
Affairs investigation or received anything but praise from the
public. In 20 years I have had no driver's license suspensions. I
have never been accused of domestic violence, never been charged with
abusive conduct, assault or excessive force. I have never been
involved in labor disputes or unrest. Any of the above listed reasons
would justify sending an officer for a Fitness for Duty examination,
typically, or so I thought.
in December of 2004, I was late handing in a report (3 hours) because
I had to locate some information that I left at home on my dinner
break to complete the reports. This is rare, as I make it a practice
of completing all reports prior to the conclusion of my shift.
However, we all have have bad days, in this profession more than
others. I was caring for my father whom was ill, the pipes burst in
my home and I had just been diagnosed with high blood pressure and
thyroid disease. So, needless to say, I needed some extra time to
locate the information I needed to complete the report. Once I
completed my report, on my own time, without compensation,
returned to Headquarters to submit it, fully
expecting to receive the customary chewing out. I was not disappointed,
I was called on the carpet,
screamed at, and no one asked, nor cared why I was late turning in
the report. Ok, so maybe I deserved it, maybe I'll get a Letter of
Reprimand and a day off. I worked a couple more days and did not
think much of it.
four days later, I received a written order from my Chief to report
for a Fitness for Duty
examination with a psychologist. I
naturally protested but was told that if I did not cooperate I would
be dismissed for insubordination. The written order was so vague that
it was actually comical. It stated that I did not follow a verbal
direction and that I have been keeping to myself recently so they
want me to get Fitness for Duty examination.
this professional, we have to follow orders, and in this case, this
was a dangerous one to blindly follow. However, I reported for the
examination and tried to do the best that I could to compose myself.
Upon arriving at the examiner's office, I was received by a
receptionist at the main desk. I explained that I was being ordered
to be there against my will and I told them that I did not have my
glasses and had not eaten today. I further advised of my medical
conditions, that I just took my medication and that I need to take it
with food. I then requested to change the appointment.
receptionist stated that she is just a secretary and not able to make
that decision. I was denied the use of the men's room and a request
for a glass of water. I was given the testing material and told to
begin. I did the best I could with what I had. I completed the
written papers in an empty classroom with an open door. Outside the
door I overheard two men in an argument. Their voices were loud and
then muddled. The one subject stated in explicit terms, “Do
the big blond kid bullshit you. His Chief was up here a couple of
days ago to let us know that he is a fucking nut. He spent two hours
here with the guy's personnel file”.
knew it was a setup and I also knew that if I did not cooperate that
I would be charged with insubordination and fired. I saw my whole
career going down the drain, I saw my wife,
our home, our future children, everything being taken from us and no
recourse but to give them the ammunition that
they wanted to justify taking it from me.
I was called in for an
interview with the "examiner". He had
such a thick accent that I could not understand him.
tried to tell the him that I did not have my glasses with me and that
I cannot see to read without them, but it did not matter.
told him that I have a medical condition, that I am under a doctor's
care for high blood pressure, thyroid disease and being tested for
the presence of diabetes, on medication and requested to reschedule
so I could go to my doctors. That request was denied.
asked to use the men's room and for a glass of water, I was ignored.
to the written examination being scored and at the beginning of the
interview, the first question the examiner asked me was if I still
carry a gun and if the Department seized it yet. I was shocked and
asked the examiner why he asked me that question. The examiner
appeared frightened and informed me that he was under the impression
that my weapon was seized. He was misinformed.
again requested that the examination be discontinued and to use the
bathroom, the examiner then stated that I should “sit the
down” because my Department ordered me to be there. He then
examined some documents and asked why I was there. I explained to him
the circumstances and he stated that based on his written test that I
was probably a liar. I again reminded him that I do not have my
glasses, nor the ability to read the written test that I was forced
to take. The examiner continued to ignored me and questioned me as
to why members of my Department have observed me sitting alone at
I explained that it is
number of reasons, I like to take a
moment to myself to read and rest my eyes at the conclusion of the
shift away from the confusion of the shift change. The examiner then
made a comment followed by the slang “stupidio”or
stupid. He stated that because the other tests were not accurate, he
would be forced to use the Fabled Ink Blot tests.
again told him that I CANNOT SEE WITHOUT MY GLASSES, it was a total
waste of time as the results of all the testing were already
preformed before I arrived and paid for by my Chief. The examiner
repeatedly threatened me with the fact that my Department has ordered
that I cooperate with him.
examiner asked the most embarrassing and humiliating questions that
must have violated the ADA and HIPPA. He asked questioned about past
medical conditions but seemed disinterested in my answers. He
constantly asked me if I ever took any prescribed medications
throughout my entire life clearly trying to imply a drug addiction.
He asked private questions about my sexual performance with my wife. He
asked whether or not my family members were ever in jail or
arrested. If I cheat on my wife? He asked me if I have ever been
constipated, impotent or had erectile dysfunction. He even went as
far as to inquire as to my past sexual performance with former
was then administered the standard Ink Blot Tests and gave my
responses. The examiner surprisingly stated that all was normal in my
tests and he could not figure out why I was sent there to see him? He
handed me a packet and commanded me to review it. I began to read
it and he abruptly stopped me to say that he only wished for me to
read his Waiver Form, again stating that everything was normal on the
tests. I requested that he provide me with a copy of his findings and
he grew agitated. He stated that he would send the answers to my
Department as they are his client. He told me to leave, that he would
call my Department and his last comment was “to the right of
exit is a men's room where you can take a piss”. In total I
approximately 6 hours testing.
en route back to the police building, not even fifteen minutes later,
I received a call from my Chief's office to come in and see the
Chief. The Chief then stated that the "examiner had some
additional concerns". The Chief declined to comment or even to
provide me with additional information. He stated that I should
voluntarily surrender my weapon or be ordered to do so. He then
stated that I should take my sick days or be ordered to do so. He
never responded as to what the examiner said his concerns were but
promised to provide me with a written report of the examiner's
finding. He later recanted and refused to provide me with the
report. I was told by my Chief that nothing would be written down
and not to tell anyone what transpired.
events occurred in December, I was not given access to the
examiner's findings until the following April, after repeated
requests from my attorney. I reviewed the examiner's findings which
revealed that I had passed the MMPI-II test but the examiner deemed
the results to be “lies” and he deemed me to be a
he concluded that I “fabricated” my answers,
the test. He then administered an “Ink Blot” test,
deemed harder to “fake pass” and decided that I
failed. He found
no mental illnesses or violent propensities but again concluded that
I more than likely “knew how to pass the test”. He
mentioned my physical medical condition and made references to items
in my personnel file that I did not know were in there. To this day,
7 months later, my Department still has not released the contents of
my personnel file to either the EdPD, my attorney or myself. The
EdPD has compiled a file with the materials that I have kept copies
I was fired from the Department, without a hearing, because of the
results of an Ink Blot Tests and not handing a report in on time.
(Yes, I am civil service, and no, they do not care). Since
having the Department's Fitness for Duty exam, I have had two
more of the same exams both of which have found me to be fit for
duty. I have spoken to numerous physicians and mental health experts
that stated that a Fitness for Duty status is medically and literally
impossible to reach by conducting an Ink Blot Test and interpreting
it in less than fifteen minutes. Further the Ink Blot Test requires a
national scoring test known as the Exner System. There was no Exner
score on my test.
you can imagine these events have devastated my life. Aside from the
financial burdens that this places on my wife and myself, I cannot
help to blame myself. My self esteem has suffered terribly. I have
been embarrassed, humiliated and betrayed by my Department. I am
forced to collect unemployment and to find alternative employment. I
have been in the police profession since the age of 15 and have 20
years of combined experience. My union has no recourse as there is
nothing in my contract to address this issue. My marriage is truly
being strained as I just begin in what will be at least a three year
legal battle to get my job back. My Department continues to send
threats through fellow officers to let me know in no uncertain terms,
that if I succeed in getting my job back that they will find another
way to get rid of me.
am sharing this story with my fellow officers to hopefully prevent
this from happening to another officer. I did not believe it could
happen to me but it has. I encourage all officers and their unions
to take whatever steps necessary in anticipation of this event. I
hope this article serves as a wake up call on this issue.
obvious reasons, I cannot place my signature on this letter.
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