Trends in Police Physical Ability Selection Testing

By Hoover, Larry T. | Public Personnel Management, Spring 1992 | Go to article overview

Trends in Police Physical Ability Selection Testing


Hoover, Larry T., Public Personnel Management


Currently police agencies are employing variants of three basic forms of physical ability testing: job simulation exercises, physical agility and/or stamina tests, and norm referenced physical fitness or "wellness" tests. Although job simulation exercises superficially appear most defensible, they lack benchmark standards of minimal performance levels. Physical agility tests can be administered more economically, safely, and conveniently, but generally have substantial adverse impact. Norm referenced wellness tests are gaining in popularity because they solve some of the problems of both simulation exercises and physical agility tests, but are probably least defensible as directly job related. A dominant methodology has yet to emerge from either usage or court decisions.

Issues Relating to Physical Standards Validation

Adverse impact easily occurs with regard to the imposition of physical selection standards. Although such impact is not normally noted among racial groups, it does exist with regard to an important protected class, females. All that is necessary is that a prima facie case of discrimination be established. This can be done by evidence of statistical disparities alone. See Vanguard Justice Society, Inc. v. Hughes, 592 F.Supp. 245,255 (D.C. MD. 1984). Once adverse impact is established, it is up to the employer to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that "any given requirement (has) a manifest relationship to the employment in question" in order to avert a finding of discrimination. There are various ways that plaintiffs can demonstrate that a particular requirement has an adverse effect. See Eison v. City of Knoxville, 570 F.Supp. 11, 33 FEP cases 1141 (D.C. Tenn., 1983); Pina v. City of East Providence, 492 F.Supp. 1240, 31 FEP 230 (D.C.R., 1980).

It is possible to prove that physical tests are job related to the police occupation. In Eison v. City of Knoxville, the police academy did demonstrate that the test, consisting of sit-ups, leg lifts, squat thrusts, pull-ups, and a two-mile run, were related to physical traits deemed necessary in police officers. However, similar cases have been lost. Most important is Burney v. City of Pawtucket, 559 F.Supp. 34 FEP 1274 BCR 1, (1983). The U.S. District Court examined a sex discrimination charge stemming from minimum physical training standards employed by the Rhode Island police training academy. A commission on standards and training fixed standards for admission to and graduation from the academy. The commission was also empowered and directed to establish minimum police training requirements. Rhode Island law requires the successful completion of the basic police training course before a recruit can be certified as a police officer. The district court examined both the pretest and post test minimum physical training requirements. It concluded that the standards had an adverse impact on women.

The pretest involved seven subparts, of which recruits were required to pass five. Recognizing that the physical abilities of women are different from mens', Rhode Island utilized a standard deviation below the mean for men as a cut off point for women. The defendants conceded that the cut off scores established for the pretest were fairly arbitrary, but defended them on the basis that they were also quite lenient.

The court noted that it was not blind to the obvious, the fact that physical decrepitude at some point must inhibit the proper performance of police duties. However, it found that there had been no effort to correlate performance on the physical test used at the academy and occupational performance. The academy defended its post test and graduation requirements on pragmatic arguments, such as "human experience" and "experience of police officers on the job." The rationale that physical training requirements are appropriate because they appear appropriate was found "convenient" by the court, but "totally lacking in legal merit. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Trends in Police Physical Ability Selection Testing
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.