Last night, March 14, 2011, Fox cable news had a short U.S. Department of Justice blip regarding lowering police written test standards in Dayton, Ohio. The police department had average requirements for recruits on written tests from 66 to 72 in numerical scale. The Justice Department forced the Dayton police to lower test thresholds to 58, supposedly because too few African Americans and minorities were passing entrance tests as well as the required academy material.
Test standards were also challenged last year for fire department personell seeking advancement to an Engineer-Lieutenant position within a fire company in N.Y. The test requirements were considered too high for many minorities which is complete nonsense.
Higher standards and test scores are set to attract and maintain the best qualified individuals for a department, police or fire service. Race, creed or color has nothing to do with obtaining a position. Pre-employment testing determines who is best suited to pass rigid requirements at city academies.
Upon entry in service, recruits are required to pass all written subject material or be discharged. Police and firefighters also have a probationary period where duty performance is measured daily by training officers. There is no middle ground in the cities of this nation, people’s lives depend on police officers and firefighters making correct decisons constantly.
Academy courses require a great deal of study and homework. After graduation, promotion and advancement requires a written test which must be passed. A firefighter with the desire to become an engineer-lieutenant needs a great deal of study to pass the tests. Knowledge of math tables, equations dealing with everything from water pressure, hose friction, hydraulics,electricity to brain challenging necessary skill traits must be passed.
Police advancement has exacting requirements in areas of law enforcement, interpersonal relationships to a gaunlet of necessary skills to become a detective or supervisory officer. In any case, good moral character and a clean record is required for all recruits in both departments.
The U.S. Justice Department at one time required very strict standards for anyone interested in federal law enforcement careers. A pre sceening test was required which needed a score of at least 90 to be placed on a waiting list nationwide.If chosen, the F.B.I. provided intense background checks on every individual. Poligraph tests were common as well as interviews with mental health doctors. Academy courses were intense and required a passing grade of 70 on every subject to graduate in four months.
After graduation, in service courses were required to be passed at five months and ten months probationary period. Scores less than 70 on law tests, foreign language skills, or substandard conduct and efficiency reports often led to dismissal from the service.
It did not matter if an agent was from an minority background or the son or daughter of a high ranking public official or politician. Fail the required tests and there was no dispute. The only second chance was the opportunity to complete the academy again from start to finish. Perhaps the new improved U.S. Department of Justice is a kinder, gentler organization than the one I knew and worked for. The Justice Department in an age of terrorism should have more important goals than what constitutes fair test scores with independant City Police and Fire Departments.
Police and Fire Department personnel have been assets to communities with their own standards of conduct, testing of cadets long before the U.S. Government intruded in city and state affairs.