NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Smart Cop Candidates Told To Apply Elsewhere

September 21, 1999

The Police Department in New London, Conn., follows this hiring policy: only mediocre minds need apply. Three years ago it refused to grant a job interview to an applicant it considered too smart. The applicant protested and took his case to court. He lost.

  • In 1996, Bob Jordan scored 33 out of 50 on an exam which is used by 40,000 employers across the country.
  • When he scored six points too high to gain an interview, he was told that he did not "fit the profile" -- which required him to score between 20 to 27, as was revealed during subsequent court proceedings.
  • The City of New London contends that smart officers often become bored in patrol jobs and leave the force after the city has paid to train them.
  • But many New London residents see the rule as insulting to their police force and nonsensical at a time when law enforcement officers must deal with complex social problems.

But a federal judge this month ruled that the process was constitutional since the city treats all smart would-be officers the same, and thus did not discriminate against Jordan.

The president of Wonderlic Inc., the publisher of the test, says it has been administered to 125 million people since 1937. He defends a section in its user manual which warns employers against hiring overly qualified applicants for positions where creativity could be a detriment.

Source: Mike Allen, "Help Wanted: The Not-Too-High-Q Standard," New York Times, September 19, 1999.


Browse more articles on Government Issues