QUESTIONING VETERAN’S PREFERENCE FOR PO POSITIONS

Posted by Daniel Herbert

Questioning veteran’s preference for PO positions

Hiring plans for Police Departments throughout the country have instituted a Veteran’s Preference for all veterans who served active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. However, the reality is that some departments completely ignore this policy and actually institute a policy of disqualifying candidates because they are veterans. Of course, these departments have denied such discriminatory practices. After all, what kind of person would discriminate against the men and women who have gallantly sacrificed so much to fight for our country? It is impossible to get inside the heads and know the true motives behind those responsible for the hiring decisions of police departments. However, it is clear that something is amiss vnih the hiring practices of certain departments. A group of military veterans have filed a class action lawsuit against the CPD alleging that they were disqualified as candidates because they were veterans who served active duty The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, case number 13 C 4834, and the class has more than 60 members. Plaintiffs contend that employment decisions with the Chicago Police Department are being manipulated through the hiring and testing process and are actively being screened from view by utilizing aspects of the process that are shielded from scrutiny. The vehicle being used to disqualify these individuals is the psychological test. Pre-employment screening tests have been used by police departments for many years. The tests vary, but they must have certain attributes in common. They must be objective, meaning that they do not unfairly favor one group over another. A test battery including objective, job-related, validated psychological instruments should be administered to the applicant. Moreover, the interview must be conducted in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Veterans were not given the same tests as were non-veteran applicants. Instead, veterans were asked questions specifically designed to disqualify them from the application process. Obviously police departments have a responsibility to screen for officers who are mentally ill. However, in many cases candidates are being disqualified for psychological reasons that are non-existent. In many cases, the psychological interviews administered in Chicago consisted of nothing more than a five-minute discussion of current events. At the conclusion of the interview, the test administrator informed the candidate that they “should have nothing to worry about.” For the next several months, the candidates were scheduled for other pre-employment procedures. According to the suit, after completing all the pre-employment tests, months passed without any contact from CPD. The next communication these candidates received was a generic letter from the human resources department informing that they were disqualified because they failed the psychological exam. They were told they could not appeal the decision. They were not given any information about why they failed the exam. They were prevented from seeing the results of the exam. Of course, they were suspicious of the results. These candidates had passed all medical and psychological exams upon leaving the Armed Forces. One of the candidates was hired as a detention aide with the Chicago Police Department after passing the same psychological exam, given by the same company, in the same room, for the same department six months before he allegedly failed the CPD exam. All of these candidates were highly decorated officers who were honorably discharged from service. While on active duty, these candidates were psychologically qualified to guard President Bush; head the security details of U.S embassies around the world and lead combat missions in the most dangerous of situations. Yet, somehow, they are not psychologically fit to be a police officer in Chicago. Perhaps certain departments are concerned that veterans are more likely to be aggressive and thus subject their departments to excessive force complaints. Studies do not support this to be true. Veterans have a unique set of skills that appear to make them ideal law enforcement candidates such as: physical condition; firearms training; leadership experience; combat experience; respect for discipline and authority and experience working with culturally diverse groups. Fear of lawsuits should not be the overriding decision when assembling a police department. Although there may be a place in today’s police departments for the “warm and fuzzy” police officer but departments must realize that police officers confront very dangerous people. Who would you rather have standing beside you when you enter a dark alley and are surrounded by thugs? The “warm and fuzzy” police or someone who has proven and tested fortitude? I know which officer I would want at my side.

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