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Police and Law Enforcement Home  >  The Column  >  Is the NJ Sergeant's Exam Discriminatory?


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Is the NJ
Sergeant's exam Discriminatory
Police and Law Enforcement News
Friday, January 8, 2010
10:50 a.m.

The sergeant's exam used by the New Jersey Department of Personnel has the joined the ever-growing list of tests to be declared "discriminatory."


The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit yesterday stating that the exam discriminates against African American and Hispanic candidates.

Championing the suit, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division Thomas Perez said, "This complaint should send a clear message to all public employers that employment practices with unlawful discriminatory impact on account of race or national origin will not be tolerated."

And so begins yet another saga.

Bottom line, NJDOP creates a book list, tells us which books to study, and creates questions from the books on case law, criminal law, traffic law, management, police procedures, etc.  If this is discriminatory, I would love to know exactly what they suggest we should use as a barometer for promotion.


New Jersey’s civil service test for police officers seeking a promotion to sergeant discriminates against African-American and Hispanic candidates, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice Thursday.

Even African-Americans and Hispanics who pass the multiple-choice test are less likely to receive promotions because their scores are lower, according to the 10-page lawsuit filed against the state and the Civil Service Commission. The suit seeks to block the state from using the test.

At least 120 municipal and county police departments in New Jersey have used the discriminatory system from 2000 to 2008, according to Department of Justice spokesman Alejandro Miyar.

Eighteen of the state’s 20 largest cities and townships, including Newark, use the same test.

"This complaint should send a clear message to all public employers that employment practices with unlawful discriminatory impact on account of race or national origin will not be tolerated," said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department will take all necessary action to ensure that such discriminatory practices are eliminated and that the victims of such practices are made whole."

Civil Service Commission spokesman Mark Perkiss said the test is developed internally and administered annually with different questions each year. "We’ve been testing for this position for decades," he said.

Perkiss did not comment on the contents of the test. He referred questions on the lawsuit to the attorney general’s office, but the spokesman there, David Wald, declined comment.

Newark Police Department spokesman Detective Hubert Henderson said the approximately four-hour test covers traffic and criminal laws, as well as state guidelines.

When preparing for the test, Henderson said, candidates study two or three textbooks and sometimes take courses costing $2,500 to $3,000. He said he’s never heard any discrimination complaints involving the test.

The Department of Justice is arguing the state has violated Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination, because it hasn’t proved that the test, which some departments require for promotions to sergeant, is an essential tool for determing fitness for the job.

Between 2000 and 2008, 89 percent of the white candidates who took the test passed it, compared to 73 percent of African-American candidates and 77 percent of Hispanic candidates, the lawsuit says.

We will monitor and post updates on this case.
Police and Law Enforcement News
Friday, January 8, 2010
10:50 a.m.



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