Newark, NJ—Members of the council raised questions and expressed concerns today at a special meeting about a contract with the doctor who does the examinations for police academy recruits.

North Ward Council Member Anibal Ramos Jr. started the questioning over a resolution to ratify and authorize a contract not to exceed $264,875 with Nicole J. Rafanello for Clinical and Forensic Psychological and Consulting Services.

Ramos asked members of the Public Safety and Division of Police if there were a larger percentage of recruits not passing the psych exams since the new doctor started. When he was told the percentage did rise, Ramos said that should be further examined.

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“I think we should be concerned that there’s an unusually high failure rate,” said Ramos. “I think it’s an important question to look at.”

Council Member at Large Carlos M. Gonzalez requested information on whether “minorities are failing more than non-minorities.”

Gonazalez and Central Ward Council Member Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins pointed out the fact that the doctor before Rafanello was replaced for failing too many minority and female candidates.

Gonazalez requested specific information to be brought before the council to ensure that the same problem isn’t occurring again. Chaneyfeild Jenkins said she wanted to make sure that the current doctor and whatever doctor going forward would have the “sensitivity” to handle the hiring process with fairness and without prejudice.

Several members of the council including Gonzalez and Council Member at Large Luis A. Quintana and West Ward Councilman Joseph A. McCallum questioned why a doctor in Morristown was being used in the first place when there were qualified people in Newark who could have received the contract.

“Rutgers is right here, and they do have the resources,” said McCallam.

Ramos suggested the city should examine whether Rutgers could be used in the future.

Members of the council expressed frustration with the idea that recruits needed to travel so far for an evaluation and said that they would rather pay the money to a qualified Newark doctor.

East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador asked for an explanation of the RFP process because he wanted to know how the public was notified that the contract was up for bid.

“There’s something wrong with this process,” said Amador, pointing out that there are about nine months left on the existing contract and a decision about the future would need to be made.

The council decided to defer voting on the existing contract until a special meeting on June 7th.