The Methuen Police Department in Methuen, Massachusetts gave special preference to applicants who said they wouldn’t arrest relatives or fellow officers for DUIs, reported the Boston Globe.
The Massachusetts Civil Service Commission found that the Methuen Police Department gave additional points to job applicants who said they wouldn’t arrest relatives or fellow officers for DUIs, while docking points from applicants who said otherwise. Civil Service Commission officials denounced the biased nature of the department’s hiring process.
“The City turned the interview process upside down,” said Chris Bowman, chairman of the Civil Service Commission. “There is simply no valid basis to award the highest points to candidates who express a willingness to apply one set of rules to strangers and another set of rules to friends and family members.”
The Methuen Police Department argued that the questions were designed to measure a candidate’s honesty, integrity, and reasoning ability. “I’m looking for some bearing, some honesty, and how quickly the person can think on their feet,” said Methuen Police Lieutenant Michael Pappalardo. The problem with that reasoning is that candidates who would honestly arrest a relative or fellow officer for a DUI stand to get overlooked for a position, an unfair and inconsistent hiring practice.
The Boston Globe noted that several Massachusetts-based police departments have been scrutinized for a practice known as “professional courtesy,” which is essentially when cops give their co-workers a pass to break the law. Methuen’s biased and unfair hiring process encourages that practice.