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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

[WI] "Experts look at a young officer’s murderous rampage"

Provided by The Force Science Research Center
By Chuck Remsberg
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
You’ve no doubt read or watched the national coverage about the off-duty law officer [Tyler Peterson] in a one-stoplight timber town in Wisconsin’s North Woods who recently burst into an early-hours pizza party of high school friends…slaughtered 6 of them, including his ex-girlfriend, with his AR-15…opened fire on a responding fellow officer, a friend of his…eluded authorities for hours with deceptive calls about his whereabouts…and finally killed himself with 3 pistol rounds to his neck and head after negotiations for his surrender failed and he was wounded in the arm by a SWAT sniper.... Fully certified, he was 20 years old and had been in law enforcement for less than a year. He hired on when he was 19. Urgent questions have emerged. Might the risk of violent explosion have been detected in Peterson by stricter pre-employment screening and certification standards? What latent demons may have driven him? Is anyone his age too young to be a cop? How will his murderous actions affect law enforcement generally and, in particular, those who served with him and those who had to hunt him down? Force Science News consulted 3 prominent authorities on police psychology for their professional insights: Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato; Dr. Alexis Artwohl, an advisory board member for FSRC and a former police psychologist in Portland, OR; and Dr. Kevin Gilmartin, former vice president of the Society of Police and Criminal Psychology and also a member of FSRC’s board.... As in some other jurisdictions, no psychological testing is required in Wisconsin for prospective LEOs and none was voluntarily administered to Tyler Peterson before he was hired by either agency... Gilmartin insists that the reliability of such screening is “excellent” and strongly believes that testing should be mandated in all states as a standard, precautionary condition of certification... Artwohl agrees that meaningful screening procedures “are obviously important and effective.” But she cautions that no attempt at predicting human behavior can guarantee 100% accuracy. Psychological testing done today cannot guarantee that a person will not have a serious problem through a 25-year career”... Lewinski adds that the value of psychological testing depends heavily on the quality of the tester. In some places, he explains, a psych eval consists merely of “a generalized personality test scored by a computer and loosely overseen by a licensed psychologist... Sometimes there’s little meaningful psychological interviewing done... Guidelines for quality testing are well-documented, thanks in large part to the Psychological Services Section of the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police, Gilmartin points out. “The random solo practitioner, acting without well-researched guidelines, is an obsolete model,” he says. “But unfortunately,” Lewinski claims, “many departments don’t know and don’t care. So long as some psychologist OKs the people they want to hire, that’s good enough for them”... (Full article here)

New details in 911 calls released from Crandon shootings
The Associated Press
October 17, 2007
... At 9:34 a.m., [Deputy Tyler Peterson's friend] Mike Kegley calls back [to the police station] and asks for [Chief] Dennee. He tells the chief Peterson has given up his assault rifle but still has a pistol. He tells Dennee that Peterson is calm and they’ve been feeding him coffee and sodas. He says Peterson knows where the SWAT team is mobilizing at a nearby intersection. He says Peterson wants to talk to Dennee and will let only Dennee arrest him. But Peterson won’t call him because he believes police have tapped his phone and he refuses to use any other phone. “He said he ain’t ready for that yet,” Kegley said. Investigators say Peterson died shortly after 12:30 p.m., having apparently shot himself three times in the head. He also had a wound in the arm from a long-distance shot. With his agency in charge of the investigation, the attorney general has drawn criticism in newspaper editorials for not being more forthcoming with information on the high-profile case. He told reporters at last week’s press conference the victims’ families didn’t want them talking to anyone in Crandon, and that law enforcement in Forest County would have no more comments on the case. Then he left without taking questions... (Full article here)

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