Could it Really Be that You HAVE to be Stupid to be a Cop?

I very much hope that this news brief oversimplifies the issues in some way, because I would hate to think that — even if it’s legal — a police department was intentionally trying to avoid hiring smart applicants.

A Federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a man who was barred from the New London police force because he scored too high on an intelligence test.

In a ruling made public on Tuesday, Judge Peter C. Dorsey of the United States District Court in New Haven agreed that the plaintiff, Robert Jordan, was denied an opportunity to interview for a police job because of his high test scores. But he said that that did not mean Mr. Jordan was a victim of discrimination.

Judge Dorsey ruled that Mr. Jordan was not denied equal protection because the city of New London applied the same standard to everyone: anyone who scored too high was rejected.

via Judge Rules That Police Can Bar High I.Q. Scores.

And, yes, I do know there is more to smarts than IQ scores. But still.

PS. A little research suggests that this might actually be true. For example, Jordan v. City of New London, 2000 U.S. App. Lexis 22195 (August 23, 2000):

On March 16, 1996, plaintiff Robert Jordan and 500 other applicants underwent a written screening process conducted by the Law Enforcement Council of Southeastern Connecticut, Inc. (“LEC”), a coalition of fourteen cities and towns, for a position as a police officer. That testing process operated as an initial screen for participating police departments. The testing material included the Wonderlic Personnel Test and Scholastic Level Exam (“WPT”), which purports to measure cognitive ability. An accompanying manual listed recommended scores for various professions and cautioned that because overqualified candidates may soon become bored with unchallenging work and quit, “simply hiring the highest scoring employee can be self-defeating.” Jordan scored a 33 on the WPT, above the median for any listed occupation, and well over the normative median of 21 suggested for a police patrol officer.

In the fall of 1996, Jordan learned that the city of New London was interviewing candidates. Upon further inquiry, however, he learned from assistant city manager Keith Harrigan that he would not be interviewed because he “didn’t fit the profile.” Plaintiff, who was 46 years old, suspected age discrimination and filed an administrative complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. The city responded that it removed Jordan from consideration because he scored a 33 on the WPT, and that to prevent frequent job turnover caused by hiring overqualified applicants the city only interviewed candidates who scored between 20 and 27.

The court is probably correct on the law, unless someone is going to try suggest that there’s some connection between IQ and a protected class (race, religion, sex, national origin, over-40-ness). But what a policy!

How long before some defense lawyer tries to use this policy to impeach a police witness?

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3 Responses to Could it Really Be that You HAVE to be Stupid to be a Cop?

  1. mkhall says:

    That’s not all that surprising. Particularly today, employers look for any excuse they can to filter down the huge pool of applicants for every position. Interviewing costs money, and the one place no organization wants to spend money is on staff.

  2. Bia says:

    Well, not to worry…soon our miserable education system (with all the Bush-era NCLB testing bs instead of actually TEACHING kids to THINK) will insure that No Cop is Left Behind, once EVERYONE is properly dumbed-down!!

  3. Taylor says:

    Maybe not surprising to you, mkhall, but definitely remarkable to me. I mean, overqualified in terms of educational credentials or training certifications is one thing, but overqualified in terms of IQ? To be a cop? The front line of law enforcement? I don’t really think the paperwork involved in possibly “frequent turnover” outweighs having intelligent police officers.

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