Budgetary trauma, outsourced

Should San Diego open its police department “psychological services” contract to competitive bidding? No, says the department in a memo to city council. “The utilization of another counseling firm would require all employees utilizing services to develop relationships with new doctors. Experience has shown that police employees are reluctant to solicit or develop relationships with new doctors and may discontinue useful professional services if placed in the position to work with a doctor with whom they are not familiar.”

The current holder of the agreement, Mission Valley’s Focus Psychological Services, to be renewed for another year, is run by Jolee Brunton. For $300,000 a year, Focus provides what it calls “officer psychological preparedness training,” involving a “full day of training for the graduating academy recruits and their families on the impacts of the law enforcement profession, resource familiarization and resiliency building.” In addition, the firm offers “civilian resiliency training” and “critical incident debriefing and defusing,” in which “doctors conduct a full debriefing with all officers directly involved in shootings and in-custody deaths, as well as conducting defusing session for other traumatic incidents where intervention is appropriate.”

Back in April 1985, Brunton, then a clinical psychologist with the El Cajon Police Department, told the Los Angeles Times she feared the use of drug-sniffing dogs by private employers. “It’s a very accusatory approach,” she said. “How management would deal with their workers in such an accusatory atmosphere would really concern me.”

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