Philosophical Cop is a serving police officer in an urban city. Read his blog here.
The US Justice Department recently accused New Jersey of using a discriminatory civil service test. The test in question is multiple choice, covering laws and regulations and other dry, memorization – based trivia. Candidates just fill in the bubbles.
Now, I could forcefully argue that this is not the best way to evaluate cops (I find them mind-numbing and useless), but to say it is racist is a cheap side step of the true issue at play here. More on that true issue later.
The Department of Justice complaint identifies two primary problems with the test:
- They note that White officers are passing the test in higher numbers, and that must mean the test is racist.
- Then they go with the old “This test doesn't prove it is necessary to be a good cop” argument. Perhaps not, but hang on AG Holder. You said the test was racist. If the DOJ wants to attack a test as useless in developing a workable list of cops, I will help them gratis. But they chose the race route for a reason.
I have no doubt the statistics are true. This means that the test is probably racially disparate in impact (and yes, I know that is the legal requirement for the suit ) but my experience in law enforcement makes me doubt sincerely and with all my might that the test designers intended to produce these results.
What is really going on here? It is much worse and in fact more insidiously racist than a 4-hour test. Follow my logic here…
- The test is rote memorization. Period.
- Most cops (most people) learn memorization and multiple-choice test taking skills in school. Period
- White people in this country go to better schools. Period
In fact, I am making a much more sensible discrimination complaint here. Non-whites simply go to crappier schools than their White colleagues. This is the true injustice here.
Here is the timeline as I see it:
The civil servant candidates decide they want to become police officers. Then they go take a test. Go figure, the folks who got better primary, secondary, and college educations do a better job on these silly memorization exercises. It says something racist, but not about the test, and not about the Police Departments.
Now, the more meaningful search into school disparities would force the federal government to admit our failing schools are having a disparate impact on minorities. That would be the ultimate confession and is politically untenable for any administration.
But suing the police for being racist? That is just too easy…
Read philosophical cop’s blog here.
The blogger is a serving police officer in a large urban city, and has requested anonymity in order to preserve his ability to comment freely on law enforcement issues. The views of our independent bloggers do not reflect the editorial opinions or policy preferences of The Crime Report. Blogs are only edited for taste, accuracy and grammar, in keeping with our role as a non-partisan platform for a broad range of perspectives on the criminal justice system.