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Licensing fiasco prompts new psychological tests for county deputies, jailers

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner says psychological retesting begins today (Jan. 25) for more than 400 deputies and jailers tested by psychologist Dr. Charles T. Kenny, who was found to be testing deputies even though he had not been licensed by the state for 18 years.

Bonner and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris explained the situation at a Wednesday press conference.

Bonner on Thursday said 214 deputies are affected by the ruling from the Peace Officer Standards & Training Commission (POST). Counting jailers there are 402 people. Kenny was administering tests even though his license had expired in 2001. The testing was done from 2013 until last year.

“It’s a written test,” Bonner said. “It takes three to three and a half hours to complete and there is a one-on-one with a psychiatrist…We’ve got until April to complete all the testing for the law enforcement.”

Bonner estimated it will take two weeks, testing on Fridays and Tuesdays, to retest the deputies. Then officials will retest the jailers. He said it puts the people affected in a bad situation.

“You’re basically taking a test where your job is on the line,” he said. “These are not rookies. They’ve been on the job four or five years. They have house notes…

“We’re hoping and praying that everybody passes,” Bonner said. “I hope the mayor’s office can sue this guy and recover the county’s money.”

Calls were made to the Shelby County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, but there was no response by TSD deadline.

Bonner said he was notified by POST in December that there was a problem with Kenny administering the tests. He said POST came to Memphis and conducted an audit and that he made a visit to the POST Commission in Nashville in December.

At that time, they didn’t think that the tests would have to be re-administered.

Bonner said Kenny appeared before the POST Commission and told them his license was expired but he was working under another doctor’s license.

“POST didn’t rule on it at the time,” Bonner said Thursday. “After consideration, they decided that was not good enough and are saying that we have to retest.”

Bonner said he has not heard anything from the Tennessee Corrections Institute, which oversees the requirements for jailers, but added, “we feel like they’ll make us retest the jailers as well.”

Bonner on Thursday said his department is not in charge of the hiring process. He said hiring for the sheriff’s department was turned over to the county’s human resources department in 2005.

“We’re trying to be transparent and do things the right way,” Bonner said. “There was no way for the Sheriff’s Office to know that his license was invalid.”

The retesting will cost $40,000 to re-evaluate the 214 deputies. The jailers will then take the test.

At the Wednesday press conference, Harris said the number of county employees could also include corrections officers, dispatchers, firefighters, process servers, juvenile detention officers and court officers.

He said investigators are checking with the state on those other employees.

Dr. Lisa Alex, who has conducted testing for the Memphis Police Department, will be retained to do future testing of county employees.

Lauren Lee, interim spokesperson for Harris, said the mayor’s office is conducting an internal investigation on the matter.

Kenny is owner and president of a marketing firm called The Right Brain People and Kenny & Associates Inc.

He did not return a call to his office by TSD press time.


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