Police forces across the country have recently been in the news, and not for great reasons: bad decisions, over-reactions, excessive force. A woman in Georgia was even held in jail for a month because cops couldn’t tell the difference between meth and SpaghettiOs.
While no one expects police officers to necessarily be nuclear physicists, it seems counterproductive to turn away those applicants who have higher than average intelligence given the intricate, complicated, and dangerous situations in which cops regularly find themselves.
A federal court, however, recently ruled that it was legal for a police force to not hire applicants because they scored too high on the force’s intelligence test.
The Second US Court of Appeals in New York ruled that the New London Police Department (NLPD) did not discriminate against Robert Jordan, a 49-year-old college graduate who had applied for a position on the force, ABC News reported.
Jordan scored a 33 on the test, which is the equivalent of an IQ of 125 – an above-average score. New London’s police department, however, only interviewed applicants with scores within the 20 to 27 range. The average police officer score nationally is 20 to 21, which is the equivalent of an IQ of 104, or an average intelligence level.
The NLPD’s justification was that applicants with higher than average intelligence would be more likely to become bored with police work and quit after training than applicants with just average intelligence.
Jordan argued that he was discriminated against because of his test score and sued, saying that the NLPD had violated his civil rights as he was denied equal protection under the law.
“This kind of puts an official face on discrimination in America against people of a certain class,” Jordan said. “I maintain you have no more control over your basic intelligence than your eye color or your gender or anything else.”
While admitting the NLPD’s policy might be foolish, the court said that the department had “shown a rational basis for the policy,” and upheld a lower court’s original ruling that Jordan had not been discriminated against.
The court’s decision in this case essentially says it’s perfectly fine to dumb-down the police departments sworn to protect the American people. Turning away applicants from any job – not just law enforcement – because they are too smart is absolutely ridiculous. Those in charge of hiring should want the smartest employees possible, regardless of the position.