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Dumbed Down Stories
Police, Fire, Municipal

U.S. Justice Department Wants "Dumbed Down" Cops (06/13/97)

          "The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has been pressuring police forces across the country to abandon "cognitive" entrance exams [exams based upon mental ability, reasoning skills, and intelligence], which test for basic reading, writing, memory and reasoning skills.

          "The Department argues that such tests are illegal because they exclude too many minorities from police ranks. Cognitive test supporters say the tests are needed to assure that officers have the mental skills to make quick decisions about everything from the constitutional rights of suspects to the use of deadly force.

          "As of 1993, some 83 percent of large city and county police forces used cognitive tests in hiring -- but that may be about to change.  After years of pressure from the Justice Department, Nassau County, N.Y., agreed to replace its cognitive-based entrance exam with one that was based on personality -- in which applicants had to score only as well as the bottom 1 (one) percent of current police officers on a reading exam.

          "Critics charge that the whole effort to achieve "diversity" in police ranks is leading to such absurdities as recruiting on street corners in the poorest neighborhoods, rather than going to the top black colleges for new people.

          "Justice Department bureaucrats also hopped on officials in Suffolk County, N.Y., claiming that its test allowed too few minorities to get police jobs. It charged that if the test were race neutral, top scorers would have included 249 more new blacks, 170 more Hispanics and 447 fewer whites.

          "Police officials in other areas of the country are also feeling heat from Justice's civil rights crusaders, critics report.

          "The Louisiana State Police was forced to water-down its cognitive tests to the point where that portion was "minuscule," leaving the test "no better than chance," according to experts.  However the city of Torrance, Cal., fought back after being sued by Justice for not abandoning its cognitive tests
and refusing demands that it set up a multi-million dollar fund to compensate alleged victims of its test -- with the result that it won its case, but Justice is now appealing the decision.

          "One test development company points out that trials are often decided on the basis of the arresting officer's written report or oral testimony, which is "pure, unadulterated mental ability."

(Via the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), from Investor's Business Daily, 06/13/97, by David A. Price, "Dumbing Down the Police Force")

[Last known link http://www.ncpa.org/pi/crime/pdcrm/pdcrm66.html ]

'Dumb cop' rule really smarts (09/11/00)

          A federal court has determined that in New London, Connecticut, the police were justified in denying employment to an applicant who was too smart to be a policeman.

          Yep, he was too smart for the New London police force.

          The Atlanta Mobile Register writes "Police throughout the country should be enraged, because the policy at issue in this case feeds the unfortunate stereotype of the "dumb cop." For that matter, the citizens of New London, Conn., should be enraged, too, because it is their police department that is ensuring that the officers who serve the public are of only average intelligence. The policy is inane.

          "The case began when Robert Jordan, a 49-year-old college graduate, applied for the New London police force. When he took the entrance exam, he scored 33 points - which indicates an IQ of about 125. But the department only considers candidates who score between 20 and 27, with 20 representing an IQ of about 100, which is supposed to be average.

          "The department's theory is that those who score too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after receiving costly training.

          "Mr. Jordan sued, saying that he was the victim of illegal discrimination. Two federal courts have now refused to uphold his claim, though, saying that because the same standards were applied to all applicants, no illegal discrimination occurred. The courts also ruled that even though the policy might be unwise - we would say flat-out stupid - it was at least arguably a rational way to reduce expensive job turnover." 

(Based on the story in the Atlanta Mobile Register 09/11/00)

[Last known link http://www.al.com/news/mobile/Sep2000/11-a374838a.html ]

Too Smart to Be a Cop (09/08/00)

          The Associated Press reported the following case from New London, Connecticut:  "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."

          In 1996, Jordan scored 33 points on the police exam which is the equivalent of an IQ of 125 (well above average, but 15 points short of the traditional "genius" cutoff of 140).

          "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."

          Associated Press reports that the national average for police officers is an IQ of 104, or slightly above average.

          The U.S. District Court ruled the New London police had a reasonable explanation for their policy of rejecting applicants who were too intelligent -- they might get easily bored and leave the job after receiving costly training.  On August 23, 2000 the Second Circuit Court agreed.

          Robert Jordan has been working as a prison guard since his rejection by New London police.  Apparently prison authorities don't care of Jordan is too intelligent for the guard job; or maybe prison guards have to be smarter than police recruits.

(Based on the Associated Press story published by ABC News 09/08/00)

[Last known link http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/toosmart000908.html ]

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