Sunday, March 13, 2011

City Lowers Police Testing Standards Because Not Enough Blacks Passed... Under pressure from Obama administration...

By Lucas Sullivan

DAYTON — The city’s Civil Service Board and the U.S. Department of Justice have agreed on a lower passing score for the police recruit exam after it was rejected because not enough blacks passed the exam.

The city lowered both written exams a combined 15 points that resulted in 258 more people passing the exam, according to a statement released Thursday by Civil Service officials. The agreement allows the city to immediately resume its plans to hire police and firefighters.

The original passing scores determined by Civil Service required candidates to answer 57 of 86 (66 percent) questions correctly on one portion and 73 of 102 (72 percent) on the other. The lowered benchmark requires candidates to answer 50 of 86 (58 percent) questions correctly and 64 of 102 (63 percent) of questions on the other.

A total of 748 people passed the exam under the new benchmarks. It is unclear the demographics of those who passed.

The passing candidates will undergo preliminary background checks and, once that hurdle is cleared, will be subject to an oral interview. Those dates have not been determined.

The Justice Department’s rejection of the passing scores last month delayed the city’s firefighter’s exam that was slated for April 2. A makeup date has yet to be set for the exam.

The city said it wants to put new hires on the street in both police and fire departments by next year to replace dozens of retirees that have left public safety forces near all-time lows.

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DAYTON -- The Dayton Police Department is lowering its testing standards for recruits.

It's a move required by the U.S. Department of Justice after it says not enough African-Americans passed the exam.

Dayton is in desperate need of officers to replace dozens of retirees. The hiring process was postponed for months because the D.O.J. rejected the original scores provided by the Dayton Civil Service Board, which administers the test.

Under the previous requirements, candidates had to get a 66% on part one of the exam and a 72% on part two.

The D.O.J. approved new scoring policy only requires potential police officers to get a 58% and a 63%. That's the equivalent of an ‘F’ and a ‘D’.

“It becomes a safety issue for the people of our community,” said Dayton Fraternal Order of Police President, Randy Beane. “It becomes a safety issue to have an incompetent officer next to you in a life and death situation."

“The NAACP does not support individuals failing a test and then having the opportunity to be gainfully employed,” agreed Dayton NAACP President Derrick Foward.

The D.O.J. and Civil Service Board declined Dayton’s News Source’s repeat requests for interviews. The lower standards mean 258 more people passed the test. The city won't say how many were minorities.

“If you lower the score for any group of people, you're not getting the best qualified people for the job,” Foward said.

“We need to work with the youth and make them interested in becoming law enforcement officers and firefighters,” said Beane. “Break down the barriers whether they are real or perceived, so we can move forward in this community.”

The D.O.J. has forced other police departments across the country to lower testing standards, citing once again that not enough black candidates were passing.

The Dayton Firefighter recruit exam is coming up this summer. The chief said it’s likely the passing score for that test will be lowered as well.