23 year old Joshua McGehee is seen in a Facebook photograph beside his mother, who happens to be Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw’s Executive Assistant.In an email, exclusively obtained by the Contact 5 Investigators, we’ve learned Joshua McGehee earned his stripes to be a sheriff’s deputy, having never gone through a pre-employment psychological examination.
In the November 2010 email, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office HR Division Manager, Sanjena Clay writes, “Please be advised that Major VanReeth is waiving the psychological examination for Mr. McGehee. As a result, Mr. McGehee is not to be scheduled for a Psychological Examination.”The response the HR division manager received was, “already canceled…”
“Frankly I’m shocked that any large professional agency would waive that requirement,” said Dr. George Kirkham, a former cop turned criminologist and police specialist.“There’s no good reason for not doing it particularly if you’re giving them a badge and a gun,” he said. Kirkham explains the purpose of a psychological exam is to, “identify people who may not be suitable or are clearly not suitable for law enforcement. ”
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw agreed during an interview with the Contact 5 Investigators on a separate subject a few months ago.”It’s just to screen out people that really are not suited for the job,” Sheriff Bradshaw explained.McGehee, who became a sworn officer in 2011, was first hired by PBSO in 2008. He served as an airport parking enforcement specialist which is a non-sworn, civilian position. He was one of two students in 2011 sponsored by the sheriff’s office to attend the Palm Beach State College Law Enforcement Academy. His sponsored status meant his $3,670 tuition was fully paid for by the agency.
The waiving of McGehee’s psych exam not only bypassed PBSO’s typical hiring protocol, but the police academy’s own admission requirements: “All candidates will be required to successfully pass a psychological exam and a polygraph exam. ”Representatives from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office refused to speak to the Contact 5 Investigators on camera , but in a statement a spokesperson wrote,
“Personnel presently employed by the Sheriff’s Office whose work history and disciplinary records do not contain any negative employment indicators, and that are transitioning into sworn law enforcement or corrections positions, are NOT required to take psychological or polygraph tests. Neither psychological or polygraph testing is mandated by FDLE as a requirement to become certified law enforcement or corrections officers.
“For us to say yea, well you’ve been working in here you’ve been a dispatcher or you’ve been doing some civilian tasks you’ve been doing ok working inside. We’re going to put you out on the street now and we’re going to waive that is just ridiculous, it’s professional malpractice, grossly negligent,” said Dr. Kirkham.The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s professional standards commission which sets the standards for certified law enforcement officers across the state does not require psychological exams be conducted before hire, but they do recommend them.
The Contact 5 Investigators asked the sheriff’s office to further explain how Deputy McGehee was admitted into the Law Enforcement Academy without this required psych exam, however we have yet to hear a response from the agency.