July 26, 2006

Dog Bites Man, Part Umpty-Ump Million

The Star-Ledger of New Jersey reports:

State Police flunking the minorities they recruit:
Tests and background checks foil effort for a more-diverse force

On Friday, 102 men and women are expected to walk across the stage at the State Police training academy in Sea Girt, collect their badges and join the ranks of New Jersey's top law enforcement agency.

This latest batch of graduating troopers looks like many of the previous classes, but less and less like the state they will serve. Seventy-nine of the 102 are white men.

Seven years and millions of dollars after the State Police conceded their minority recruiting efforts were "significantly flawed" and pledged improvement, the race and gender makeup of the rank and file remains effectively unchanged.

A Star-Ledger analysis of recruiting data since 1999 shows more minorities and women than ever are applying for the force but are being rejected because they fail admission tests at disproportionately higher rates.

This rejection, according to the newspaper's analysis, occurs at various stages of the multitiered selection process: Hispanics and black candidates failed the background check at least three times more often than white applicants; women were nearly three times as likely as men to fail the physical; seven in 10 black applicants didn't pass the written test.

Why the failures persist and how to fix them have perplexed four successive attorneys general and four State Police superintendents. And they linger despite an overhaul of the recruiting and testing process, the hiring of outside consultants to grade applicants, and regular monitoring by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which sued the state a decade ago to address the issue.

In the past decade, the state's minority population has steadily risen and now hovers near 35 percent. By 2025, Census estimates indicate, almost half of New Jersey's residents will be members of minorities.

Today white males account for one-third of the state's population. But they make up four-fifths of the 2,966 active members of the State Police force, a rate only slightly lower than the racial makeup in 1999.

"I'm not saying these (recruiting) efforts are for nil," said Renee Steinhagen, executive director of New Jersey Appleseed, a public-interest law center, and a longtime critic of the State Police. "But they're not where they should be. I still believe the State Police has not changed."

State officials, law enforcement experts and the advocates who brought the initial NAACP lawsuit acknowledge the lack of success but haven't been able to explain or fix it.

As Yul Brynner said in "The King and I," "Tis a puzzlement." What possible reason could there be that women don't do as well on average as men on tests of strength, and blacks and Hispanics don't do as well on average as whites on tests of intelligence and law-abidingness? The true explanation must be incredibly complicated, as Occam's Butterknife demands.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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