Psychiatrist accused of racial bias in hiring for Buffalo Police, Fire resigns

Posted at 12:56 PM, Mar 08, 2018

A psychiatrist who was accused of asserting his racial bias during the hiring process for the Buffalo Police and Fire Departments has resigned.

Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen posted a message on Facebook Wednesday afternoon, stating that Dr. Jay Supnick had turned in his resignation after the Common Council voted to approve a resolution to terminate Supnick's contract with the city in 30 days.

This comes after half a dozen speakers shared their stories of what they feel was racial bias in the hiring practices of the Buffalo Police and Buffalo Fire Departments during a Common Council committee meeting Tuesday morning.

They say after a short psychological evaluation they were deemed unfit by Dr. Supnick, who is based in Rochester. Many of those same candidates say they sought a second opinion and Jason Cannon, who now works for an insurance company, says the findings of the second exam contradicted Dr. Supnicks evaulation.

"After a 10 to 15 minute interview he had me sized up to be this unintelligible man without integrity," says Cannon. "When I drove to Albany and got a second opinion from one of his colleagues, the recommendation was that I was recommended to be a City of Buffalo Fireman."

According to city records, Dr. Supnick did more than $100,000 dollars of consulting work with the city during the 2017 fiscal year, often providing psychological exams, one of the final barriers into the Buffalo Police or Fire Departments.

After hearing the testimony of numerous speakers questioning the results of their exam, Common Council President Darius Pridgen is concerned there may have been an issue with the process.

"If all the information that I've received from several of the gentlemen that spoke today is correct, then we have a problem."

After the hearing, Council Member Richard Fontana said it may also be time to terminate the city's contract with Dr. Supnick. The Council followed through on this suggestion when President Pridgen drafted the resolution to terminate the contract and the Council approved it.

In a conversation with 7 Eyewitness News, Dr. Supnick tells us he can't comment on the situation until speaking with the city's Human Resources Commissioner Gladys Herndon-Hill.

The city however did issue a response through spokesperson Mike DeGeorge, saying:

"The data reveals absolutely no indication of racial bias.  With new leadership in place the mayor has already directed the new Fire Commissioner & the interim Police Commissioner to review all aspects of the hiring process for fire & police with the Commissioner of Human Resources.  Any and all changes to the process will be implemented before the next class of police and fire."

Several Common Council members are now calling for an overhaul of the psych exam system.


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