Dayton Police Dept lowering test standards to recruit more blacks

Story here

OK, I understand the need for a police force that reflects the community it serves but is this really the way to get there? Isn’t this insulting to African-Americans? Why not improve the damn schools and give all the kids a better education? Sure, it would take time but instant solutions that involve cutting standards are not solutions at all. So what’s more important here (supposing that for the moment Dayton can’t have both): a racially balanced police force or a police force with a reasonable standard of education?

If not enough African Americans passed the exam, shouldn’t we be doing a better educating African Americans so that they can pass the exam instead of lowering standards? Because I assume there’s not a question on there like,

Question 2 (30 points) Are you white? A. Yes B. No

For most of US history, police jobs were handed out based on political patronage and personal connections. Whichever ethnic group controlled local politics got the greater share of the jobs. So the outcome they’re seeking in Dayton is not all that different from what’s always gone on here in the US.

I’m not sure their plan is workable. Lower the test scores and white applicants with higher tests scores who were passed over will still sue. The DOJ is trying to get better results by changing the definition of success. Hopeless, but it’s the way bureaucrats often think.

As to the test score gap, “improving the schools” won’t help that much, because the test score gap appears before black American kids start school. It’s a function of poor prenatal health, including widespread vitamin deficiencies, poor nutrition (not hunger per se, but bad food), and the tendency of black Americans to neglect and abuse their children at higher levels than white Americans or Asian Americans do.

Black Americans have substantially higher rates of abortion, infant mortality, and child abandonment (children in the foster care system are disproportionately black). Black children are much more likely than other to be born and raised in contexts of poor planning and poor provisioning, the results follow from there.

No outside agency can fix these problems, so this is mostly re-arranging deck chairs.

I have trouble thinking that someone with a 58% score is really any less qualified than one with a 66% score, actually. And does the test reflect the real job requirements, anyway?

Dayton is lowering the standards again as well as rewriting the test to be submitted to the DOJ. They are also paying 40 black people who didn’t get hired a lump sum of $10,651 plus another $10,000 for anyone meeting the previous low standards but weren’t hired because other non-black people scored higher.

Dayton put out a large school levee about 10 years ago that passed. The superintendent then blew the budget out and another large levee was passed. He then took a higher paying job somewhere else.

So we have brand new schools for the kids to spray graffiti on and a hefty legal bill because there are no qualified black people willing to apply for police and fire jobs.

A lot more.

An important part is probably maintaining some rapport with the community.

There is also an ability to think quickly, act quickly, command respect or intimidate, and treat people with respect in stressful situations.

I aced the state cop test when I took.

I cannot imagine who could make a worse cop than I.

So, I am not disturbed when the test score requirements are lowered, because they certainly didn’t prove much in my case.

You raise a good point. Many other qualities are just as important for jobs like policing. The problem is, there’s no simple way to measure these other qualities.

There’s a great deal of evidence that standardized test score correlate with other things like honesty, conscientiousness, the ability to learn new information, and the kinds of skills required to function in large organizations.

In general, standardized tests measure the kinds of thinking that allow people to succeed in an advanced industrial society. So disregarding test scores isn’t an acceptable solution.

I’d say the most important part of policing is integrity.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who would throw out test results because they’re not politically correct should not have any say in how the police force is run.

No, by definition it’s not, since it’s a passing grade. It’s silly at best, and politically-motivated shenanigans at worst, to assume that all tests everywhere must be graded according to the same standard. I’ve taken tests where anyone who got over 30% got an A, and you can make an argument that a properly-designed test will have an average score of 50%. Saying that a 58% is enough to pass a test tells me nothing, unless I also know how something about how difficult the test is.

I respectfully request a cite for the evidence that standardized tests correlate to traits and skills mentioned.

Really. Anecdote is not evidence, but I have aced lots of standardized tests primarily because of my skills at taking standardized test. (like the police exam).

I am stating that test results are not a good measure of policing ability, based on my experience.

If I were one of those people I’d want the extra $651 the Blacks got for having darker skin. :rolleyes: This whole thing is absurd.

Having a large racial imbalance on a police force may cause larger problems than having a few slightly less qualified officers. A police force needs to be able to work with the community in order to be effective, and race can be a part of that. This may not be a “politically correct” thing at all, but rather addressing a real issue that affects how the police work.

There are law enforcement scholars out there. What does the research say about what makes for an effective police force?

Tests can easily be designed so that one group or another scores higher. (Remember the ‘reading comprehension’ tests that kept blacks from voting in the South pre-1965?)

Sometimes this is even done unconsciously, when the test writer unintentionally includes their own cultural assumptions in the test. Here’s a sample question I remember about this:

  • Chitlins are commonly served with:
    -brown sugar
    That’s an easy question for a black person, but it was a complete guess for me, coming from a Minnesota Scandinavian culture.

Do we know that that was the case with this test?

We can assume that is not the case because if it was, the Department of Justice would not have accepted merely lowering the required test scores.


This is cloaked racism.

Black people are no smarter or stupider than white people.

If black people are not becoming cops the problem is not that black people are too stupid to pass the test.

The problem lies elsewhere. I’d venture to guess most black people learn to fear the police (rightly or wrongly). As such they are not prone to applying to become cops.

There are coaching programs for the test.

There is already a complaint from a black candidate regarding the lowering of standards. He doesn’t want to be hired because of the color of his skin.

The city commissioners want to do away with the rule of one with the civil service test. So not only does the DOJ want to lower the test skills for a 2nd time and review the latest exam test but the city wants to revise the charter to sidestep the hiring practice even further.

It depends entirely on what is being tested and why black candidates consistently score more poorly. Dropping the threshold score require to pass isn’t the best way to get at a test bias problem though if one exists. But bureaucracies often come up with quick hacks like that because doing it right would take longer or better resources to resolve.

The way this can make sense from both a legal and rational standpoint (heh, not always the same I guess?) is if the test we’re talking about tends to test more for whiteness than for fitness for the job. I don’t know anything about the test so I can’t say for sure one way or the other–but that would be a correct legal argument to make if in fact the test has that effect.

Even then, though, I’m surprised if the solution is to lower the passing score–I’d think, instead, that the test itself should be changed.