Details of a Boston police detectives exam may have been leaked before hundreds of officers took the test last month, forcing the department to scrap the results and to delay the addition of dozens of badly needed investigators, reports the Boston Globe. The department has launched an internal investigation into whether some officers learned before the June 30 exam that the company administering the test had decided not to ask questions from one book assigned for study. That knowledge could have given those officers an unfair advantage over other test takers because they could focus on the other books from which questions were drawn.
Police Commissioner Edward Davis has made promoting more detectives a major priority for the department, which has seen its clearance rate decline as the detective ranks have thinned. The clearance rate is the percentage of cases in which an arrest is made or a suspect is identified. Last year, there were 326 detectives, and the clearance rate was 18 percent through November. That is 80 fewer detectives than in 2001, when the department’s clearance rate was 23 percent. Jack Parlon, president of the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society, said the delay is a devastating setback when detectives are often juggling five to 10 cases a day. Parlon estimated that the department has at least 70 fewer detectives than it is supposed to have. “If we’re 70 people down, obviously we’re struggling to respond to everyone,” he said. “That’s why this exam was so critical.”