Tyler James Peterson, who killed six people at a Crandon, Wi., party, was hired as a police officer at 19 without a psychological screening. That falls short of national norms and might allow unfit candidates to enter law enforcement, experts told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Peterson, 20, began as a part-time officer in Crandon in June 2006. He was hired as a full-time Forest County sheriff’s deputy three months later and finished a year of probationary employment last month. Peterson met the state’s minimum standards, said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
State standards say “the applicant shall be free from any physical, emotional or mental condition which might adversely affect performance of duties.” Psychological screenings to see if the applicant meets that condition are not required. Police-practices expert Melvin Tucker said such screenings are standard and have been recommended by national experts since the early 1970s. A 2003 survey by Prof. Leon Vandecreek at Wright State University in Ohio showed that of 155 departments, more than 90 percent required a psychological evaluation for prospective officers.