Psychological Assessment

The Murrieta Police Department has closely evaluated the need for the psychological assessment requirement during the CCW application process. Through discussions with our City Attorney and our police department psychologist, as well as review of empirical based studies and review of other peer department CCW programs, the Chief of Police has made the decision to require a psychological assessment for all Murrieta PD CCW licenses.

Using a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) format, the department has developed some reasoning and information behind the need for a psychological assessment:

What psychological assessment tool does Murrieta PD use?

The test we use in our psychological evaluations is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), which was developed in the 1920s and has been updated regularly over the years. It is an evidence-based measure and considered one of the most well-researched, valid, and reliable psychological tests in the country. It is used by mental health professionals to assess and diagnose mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and anti-social or psychopathic behaviors. It is also what law enforcement officers are given when entering this profession. It is one of the most researched psychological tests in existence and there are more than 10,000 peer-reviewed published research papers on the MMPI.

What psychological assessment vendor does Murrieta PD use?

We have a contract with The Counseling Team (TCT). They are a trusted vendor for the police department and used by most of the police departments in Riverside County. In addition to using the MMPI, TCT also asks questions during their evaluation to assess for “behaviors of concern”, including mental health issues, drug/alcohol abuse, impulsivity, sleep problems, anger management, employment history, and interpersonal difficulties. Their detailed assessment is very important for the police chief as it assists with making an informed decision when issuing a CCW permit.

Is there an independent study supporting the use of a psychological assessment?

Yes - The FBI study of Pre-Attack Behaviors of Active Shooters in the United States describes that between the years 2000 to 2013, 25 percent of mass shooters were reported as having been diagnosed with some form of mental illness.

The FBI study focuses on “pre-shooting behaviors” observed by people who knew the shooters and were interviewed after the event.

Mass shooters exhibited the following behaviors of concern:

• Mental health issues (62%)

• Interpersonal difficulties (57%)

• Anger management (33%)

• Work performance (46%)

• Drug/alcohol use (13%)

• Impulsivity (11%)

• Sleep problems (5%)

Note: The FBI study also found that a majority of shooters obtained their guns legally.

Isn't the psychological assessment more of a personality test?

Our assessment looks at both the pathology of mental illness, depression and anxiety for example, as well as how someone interacts with the world around them. Labeling the MMPI as a personality test is simplifying a very detailed and proven scientific tool. There is no perfect test and there is no way to predict all behavior. However, the process Murrieta PD uses gives a better overall picture of the applicant and assists the police chief with making an informed decision regarding our CCW applicants.

What do other cities do?

As of 2021, every municipal agency in Riverside County with a CCW program utilizes the same process as Murrieta PD.

What legal authority does the Murrieta Police Chief have to require a psychological evaluation?

California Penal Code 26190(f) essentially states: If psychological assessment is required by the licensing authority (Police Chief), the applicant shall be referred to a licensed psychologist that is the same used for testing of its own employees. The applicant can be charged for the cost of psychological testing not to exceed $150.

Does Murrieta PD have a policy on the CCW program?

Yes – it is posted on our website under “About Us – Transparency” - Policy #218.

What feedback do we get from our City of Murrieta residents?

Many of our Murrieta residents state that during their application process, they are pleased we require a psychological assessment. They are supporters of the 2nd amendment, but want a thorough process that includes a psychological assessment.

Can a Murrieta resident get a CCW elsewhere?

Murrieta PD respects the opinion of some individuals who believe that psychological assessments should not be required for a CCW. If this is the case with a Murrieta resident, the applicant is refunded his/her funds and directed to consider applying with the County.