BAKER, LA (WAFB) - Two deputy marshals in the City of Baker have been pulled off the streets effective Monday afternoon after the 9News Investigators took their questions to the city's mayor, Darnell Waites.
Derrick Bryant and Donald Grim worked as deputy marshals in Baker. They were both hired by Baker's police chief, Carl Dunn, who also acts as the city marshal and hires deputy marshals. "They do my process serving, just courtroom security process serving," said Dunn.
Prior to giving any officer or deputy marshal a badge and a gun, Chief Psychologist Dr. William Gouvier says it's highly recommended they pass a psychological exam, also known as the matrix exam. Dr. Gouvier says the test puts an applicant through a series of evaluations and can statistically determine whether an applicant might function under pressure. The possible results of that test are "a clear pass, a clear fail or a pass with recommendations with specific areas of liability to be addressed," said Dr. Gouvier.
If the applicant fails, Dr. Gouvier says he recommends "they not hire the officer."
"Because those officers, by virtue of failing the exam, have already been identified as riskier hires than the typical officer and as riskier hires, they're more likely to either get the department, themselves, or their community in trouble or allow fellow officers or citizens to possibly be harmed or injured by virtue of their misbehavior," said Dr. Gouvier.
Numerous sources told the 9News Investigators the three deputy marshals Dunn hired, Grim, Byrant, and Lonnie Lockett, had either never taken the psychological exam or they failed it. Lockett resigned just a few weeks ago.
"He left for a much better position," said Dunn.
The 9News Investigators did some digging and found out Lockett and Chief Dunn worked together at the Baton Rouge Police Department. The other two helped Dunn when he was running for the police chief position.
In nearly a 15 minute interview, the 9News Investigators repeatedly asked Dunn if the deputy marshals he hired took or passed the psych exam.
"That's not true in my opinion, absolutely not," said Randall Dunaway, Baker's assistant police chief under the previous administration of Mike Knaps. He handled psych evaluations for any deputy marshal applicants.
"At no time under Chief Knaps' administration, under Mayor Rideau, who was the appointed authority in place that nobody who flunk the matrix exam was allowed to be hired," said Dunaway.
The 9News Investigators took the questions to Baton Rouge City Constable Major Reginald Brown, who is the marshal over the largest marshal's office in the State of Louisiana.
When Dunn was asked if it's a liability for the city if a deputy marshal is given a badge and a gun without passing the evaluation, he replied, "No ma'am, it's not."
The 9News Investigators found out a company called Risk Management insures the City of Baker, but they do not insure anyone who fails the psychological exam. If there were to be a lawsuit, the buck stops with the city's top official, Mayor Waites.
"If you wouldn't have brought this to my attention, I wouldn't have ever known. I wouldn't have ever known that we had people that didn't have psych evaluations," said Waites.
The 9News Investigators filled the mayor in on the questions. About 45 minutes later, the mayor walked out of City Hall with Dunn by his side.
"Risk Management does not cover police or marshals if they do not have a psych eval," said Waites. "If they did not pass it, they did not take it, they're not covered, and I just found that out."
This is why the mayor took immediate action.
"Until we find that out, we're going to go ahead and remove those marshals from duty now until they take the psych eval and get on board so they can be covered, because it is liability for the city," said Waites. "We're going to take them off duty. We're not going to fire them. We're going to give them an opportunity to take their psych eval."
As of Monday afternoon, no deputy marshals work at the marshal's office in Baker.
As for the question Dunn would not answer, Mayor Waites did. "I don't know if they failed it or whether they took it or not. I'm not sure," said Waites. "Either way, they do not have a psychological evaluation."
The mayor has ordered the two deputy marshals take the psychological exam first thing Tuesday morning. He says they cannot be deputy marshals until they take the test and pass it. Meanwhile, the mayor says he plans to put a clear policy in place for the city when it comes to failing the psych evaluation.