In Deal, State Police to Pay $1.4 Million

Charlotte Hale, News Journal (Wilmington), Aug. 3

WILMINGTON—Payday may be coming for trooper applicants not hired by the Delaware State Police because they scored too low on a literacy test that discriminated against blacks.

Federal prosecutors and attorneys for state government want to require the police agency to hire 12 black troopers and pay up to $1.425 million to applicants who did not get jobs solely because of their test score.

The resolution, however, is not final, even though parties on both sides of the case proposed it in a motion filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

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In May 2003, Jordan ruled that black troopers were disproportionately eliminated from consideration for police jobs because they scored lower than the required 75 percent on the multiple-choice test.

In a final ruling 10 months later, Jordan said state government failed to prove the need for setting the passing score that high. Applicants who scored as low as 66 percent to 70 percent still would have been qualified for police work, the judge said. He found no reason to think racial animus motivated the use of the test, however.

Since then, the two sides have been trying to resolve how to compensate the applicants who unfairly lost an opportunity to work for Delaware State Police.

Those eligible for financial compensation under the proposal include 104 blacks who applied unsuccessfully for police jobs between 1992 and 1998 and scored at least 66 percent on the test.

They also would have to show they met other minimum qualifications for the job, would not have failed a background check and other screenings and did not withdraw from the application process on their own.

The state also would have to try to hire 12 black troopers from among the unsuccessful applicants, if any still are interested. The federal government would monitor that process.

The proposal would not resolve what score these applicants must have received on their test to be considered for the new openings.

State government wants to set the score at 70 percent. Federal prosecutors prefer 66 percent. The final decision would be left to Jordan.

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