U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Affirmative Action and Police Selection: Managing Legal Boundaries and Psychometric Limits (From Policing and the Law, P 173-192, 2002, Jeffrey T. Walker, ed. -- See NCJ-193352)

NCJ Number
Larry K. Gaines; Pamela J. Schram
Date Published
20 pages
In this chapter, a historical perspective is presented on affirmative action, including laws and court decisions, and a review of the current state of affairs for affirmative action and its effects on contemporary police selection practices is provided.
The issue of affirmative action has dominated the attention of police personnel practices for several decades. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discriminatory practices by employers in employment decisions, thereby protecting classes of individuals from barriers to employment opportunities. Title VII had a significant impact on police employment selection. There were two specific areas where affirmative action affected the police selection process, physical agility testing and the use of written tests. Physical agility testing began with standards on height and weight as a screening device. Due to attacks on the physical agility testing and substantial litigation associated with the testing, departments adopted health-based physical agility screening. The health-based testing procedure used gender-based norms that were seen as sufficient in reducing any gender biases in physical agility screening. In the area of written tests, one area that had received significant attention concerning racial discrimination was minority performance. The two factors identified as contributing to the problem were scoring problems and sampling problems. Minorities would often score lower on police written selection tests than their majority counterparts. It was also seen that minorities were less likely to choose policing as a career thereby, creating sampling problems. The recommendation was made for the development of more reliable and valid selection instrumentation. References