Police officers in the United States take on tremendous responsibility to their communities, and have done so for decades. Officers are expected to keep the peace, protect the innocent, and arrest the guilty, all while keeping themselves safe.
This means that most police departments have outright refused to hire people who can’t meet certain basic qualifications needed for the job. However, it seems that in the name of diversity, the Minneapolis Police Department hired a man unfit for the job, which led to the death of an innocent woman. Mental evaluations show that Mohamed Noor was not the best choice, and many people argue that the city should be held responsible for turning him loose on the population with a gun.
This same officer also allegedly put a handgun to a man’s head during a traffic stop, but the department pushed through his hiring process seemingly in order to get some social diversity photo opportunity, even knowing he was ‘unable to handle stress.’
In fact, according to a number of claims from court filings, the city seemed to be so desperate to hire such a person that they were willing to ignore usual standards to hire Mohamed Noor.
According to court filings concerning the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, Noor was not a great fit for the police department.
Even before he had been hired, the officer had showed signs that he was not fit to work as an officer, as evidenced by the filing.
He was flagged by two psychiatrists in a pre-employment screening in 2015, who said that he seemed to be unable to handle the stress of policing.
They also said that he exhibited an unwillingness to deal with people, a core facet of policing.
According to the pair of psychiatrists, Noor was more likely than other candidates to “become impatient with others over minor infractions,” and he reported that he disliked people and didn’t enjoy being around them.
They also said that he had trouble getting along with others. Still, the Minneapolis Police Department pushed ahead, and hired Noor.
In fact, according to the court documents, the MPD pushed him out as fast as they could. They placed Noor on a ‘fast-track’ program, and he was the first Somali Muslim to be a police officer in the city.
In 2016, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges (a democrat) expressed her excitement at the fact.
She bragged about his hiring, and went out of her way to recognize that he had been hired and assigned to the Fifth Precinct.
Mayor Hodges didn’t seem to be excited because he was a worthwhile candidate (which, according to two psychiatrists, he was not). Perhaps her joy over his hiring stemmed from her desire to court the vote of the local Somali populace.
Noor’s time as an officer, prior to the death of Damond, was not without incident.
Just two months before the shooting, he allegedly pointed a firearm at the head of a driver who was pulled over because he gave the middle finger to a bicyclist and then passed a vehicle without signaling.
There were three complaints lodged against officer Noor in two years. His neighbor didn’t speak highly of him, either.
One reported that he was extremely nervous, as well as a little jumpy, and that he didn’t really “respect women.” She also suggested that the slightest thing was prone to set him off. These are generally not desired traits for police officers.
Most police departments have long used some sort of pre-hiring psychological evaluation to judge how possible employees would react under stressful situations. Generally, if candidates received a ‘no-go,’ the department would not hire them.
Police departments around the country are concerned, and have been for years, with civil liability and the cost of litigation for the actions of their officers.
Because of this, potential problem officers are weeded out as often as possible.
Officers who act poorly have harmed community relations, made it more difficult for good cops to do their jobs, and have generally caused a degradation in trust in some communities.
It certainly seemed like there was nothing Noor, on the other hand, could have done that would have resulted in his termination.
The two pending formal complaints against him were not enough to convince the MPD to keep him off the street, at least until the resolution of the complaints.
The ongoing lawsuit from May 2017, concerning allegations that he assaulted a woman were not enough to give the department pause.
The more that is revealed about the MPD’s practices in this case, the more it seems like they were willing to put a person not fit for duty into a uniform, and equip him with a firearm and a badge.
In the end, Justine Damond, a 40-year-old woman from Australia, paid the price for this possible diversity hire.