Thursday, August 28, 2014

Smart And Strong People Need Not Apply

I haven't said much about the Michael Brown case, the subsequent civil disobedience riots in Ferguson, and the wider implications for ongoing relations between races, and between communities and the police. There's no point in adding my voice to the cacophony of loud, divergent, and speculative opinions already out there.

There is, however, one aspect of that latter issue - police/community relations - that will no doubt be affected in the future by a recent court ruling.

Smart Cops Not Allowed
A man whose bid to become a police officer was rejected after he scored too high on an intelligence test has lost an appeal in his federal lawsuit against the city.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court’s decision that the city did not discriminate against Robert Jordan because the same standards were applied to everyone who took the test.

Jordan, a 49-year-old college graduate, took the exam in 1996 and scored 33 points, the equivalent of an IQ of 125. But New London police interviewed only candidates who scored 20 to 27, on the theory that those who scored too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after undergoing costly training.

The average score nationally for police officers is 21 to 22, the equivalent of an IQ of 104, or just a little above average.

Jordan alleged his rejection from the police force was discrimination. He sued the city, saying his civil rights were violated because he was denied equal protection under the law.

But the U.S. District Court found that New London had “shown a rational basis for the policy.” In a ruling dated Aug. 23, the 2nd Circuit agreed. The court said the policy might be unwise but was a rational way to reduce job turnover.
The federal court ruled that there was no discrimination "because the same standards were applied to everyone who took the test." Yet in another case currently pending the federal government is suing the state of Pennsylvania "claiming discrimination against women who want to be (state police) troopers ... (because) ... the physical fitness requirements for cadets at the state police academy are too tough for women" - even though the same standards are being applied to everyone who takes the test.
The U.S. Department of Justice says graduating classes from the Pennsylvania State Police Academy should have more women and the feds blame physical standards for cadets for keeping more of those women from becoming troopers.

These are the five standards all state police cadets must pass:

- 300-meter run in 77 seconds,
- 13 pushups,
- 14-inch vertical jump,
- 1.5 mile run in 17 minutes 48 seconds,
- agility run in 23.5 seconds

“98 percent of the men who take the test pass the physical readiness test to become a trooper. 72 percent of the women pass the test to become a PA state trooper. Those numbers prove this is not an impossible task. We’re not looking for Olympic athletes,” Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said.
First of all, those don't seem like particularly onerous standards. If that high a proportion of people pass it seems like the bar is set on the low side. But that's a minor quibble. The main point is the insistence of the feds on equal outcome, not equal opportunity.

Another way of looking at it is that the feds want local governments to hire dumber, weaker LEOs.

That's a surefire recipe for more Fergusons...


Old NFO said...

Truly a sad commentary on the thin blue line today... sigh

CenTexTim said...

It's not just the thin blue line, it's also a sad commentary on the feds imposing standards that result in less-qualified people becoming LEOs, which will lead to more problems down the line.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Excuse me, you expect consistency from any level of government?

CenTexTim said...

WSF - You're right. What was I thinking...?