The big test

Who's behind the MPD's psychological exams?

As a footnote to last week's CP story on whether the Minneapolis Police Department's recruiting methods lead to bias against certain candidates, there are more questions worth considering. (See "Psyched Out," 05/02/06.)

At issue in the tale of Ron Jones, a 16-year law enforcement veteran, was that he twice failed the psychological exam required to be hired by the MPD. Jones, it should be noted, is African American.

It turns out that the company that gives the test, Illinois-based Campion, Barrow and Associates, has come under bias scrutiny before. According to an August 2004 edition of the Illinois Times, two candidates for the Springfield, Illinois Fire Department didn't make the cut when they were given a "psych eval" by Campion, Barrow and Associates.

(The firm also has a location here in Arden Hills.)

The candidates, it turns out, were black, according to the Times--and the firm had been targeted earlier by the local branch of the NAACP. More than that, the paper revealed that CEO Michael Campion, a retired psychology professor with a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Champaign, sat on the board of a nonprofit called the Illinois Family Institute.

The IFI, according to its web site, is "dedicated to championing and re-affirming Biblical morals and values within our rapidly changing culture." The IFI is a run-of-the-mill social-conservative group, advocating a "sanctity of life" stance and opposing "sexual orientation" as a "category for preferential status under civil rights statutes at the federal, state and local levels."

Campion is no longer listed as a board member on the IFI site, and there is no mention of the IFI on the Campion web site. (According to the web site, Campion was once with the Minneapolis Park Police.) But in a September 2005 issue, Campion told the Illinois Times that his affiliation wasn't relevant to his work.

"Municipalities hire me because of my qualifications and my expertise, not because of what party I vote for," the paper quoted Campion as saying at the time.

In 2003, nine candidates for the Springfield Fire Department sued the city over Campion's testing, but a judge dismissed the suit. However, last May, the Springfield city council voted not to renew its contract with Campion.

Calls to Campion, Barrow and Associates seeking comment were not returned.