DOJ: Police Math Exam Discriminates Against Blacks, Hispanics

AP, March 15, 2006

CHESAPEAKE, Va.—The Chesapeake Police Department entrance exam discriminates against black and Hispanic applicants, according to a letter released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The findings, similar to a ruling against Virginia Beach’s police department last month, stem from a discrepancy on the National Police Officer Selection Test between March 2001 and December 2005.

According to the letter, applicants needed to score at least 70 percent on the mathematics section of the test. A review of the scores showed that 57.34 percent of the black applicants passed, compared to 88.91 percent of white applicants.

The Justice Department said the test had “a significant adverse impact against both African-American applicants and Hispanic applicants.” It also said that the city failed to demonstrate that its use of the mathematics test is job-related for an entry-level police officer and is necessary to do the job.

City attorney Ron Hallman told The Virginian-Pilot newspaper of Norfolk that Chesapeake leaders will meet with Department of Justice officials in the next two weeks in hopes of avoiding a civil rights lawsuit. The city received the letter March 10.

“We don’t agree with it,” Hallman said. “We’re dealing with a standardized test here.”

Officials in Chesapeake have until March 31 to come to an agreement with federal officials to avoid a civil rights lawsuit, according to the letter.

Virginia Beach officials have not yet reached a resolution with the Justice Department regarding its findings.

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