City Considers Changing Police Aptitude Test So More Candidates Pass

City Considers Changing Police Aptitude Test So More Candidates Pass

By Steve Pomper 

Massachusetts State Police’s 89th Recruit Training Troop (Joshua Qualls, Gov. Office, Public domain)

There is no doubt that law enforcement agencies across the nation are competing for a dwindling supply of qualified people who want to become cops. And while some agencies have it harder than others for various reasons, those that operate in jurisdictions that tolerated or supported anti-police efforts have suffered self-inflicted injuries regarding recruiting (not to mention retaining) competent officers.

Now, some agencies are looking at concerning changes, hoping to increase recruiting. Some of these efforts involve reassessing police aptitude tests like Seattle is doing.

Over the years, Seattle’s mayors and city councils have rarely chosen police chiefs they and the rank and file agree on. Sadly, these officials have also changed police hiring standards, which can make you wonder if what veteran cops consider to be good cops get selected almost by accident.

Seattle just fired its unpopular police chief who, among other “accomplishments” he mentioned during a farewell press conference, said he was proud of the implementation of a “race and social justice” plan. Ick!

The city has chosen a former sheriff and recent head of the WSCJTC (police academy) as interim chief. She seems a good choice to fill the gap. However, she’s one of those the cops should be guardians, not warriors (semantics) officials who seem to reject that cops can be both. So, we’ll see.

So, the search for someone the mayor and council will like, and the rank and file won’t, begins anew.

The current command staff turmoil aside, SPD’s current aptitude test reportedly doesn’t pass as many officers as city officials would like or as other area law enforcement agencies pass using a different exam.

Questions: By changing tests, would Seattle be lowering its standards specifically to hire more officers? Or does the current test cull out more bad candidates than the other agencies’ test? Or is SPD’s test rejecting good candidates because of DEI or some other “landmine” questions designed to knock out traditional police candidates?

Based on Seattle’s radical partisan history, does the “aptitude” they’re looking for involve a candidate’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion over possessing traits like dependability, ethics, and initiative?

As mentioned above, SPD’s upper echelon has been a notorious house of cards for some time. Sacked, demoted, or (ironically for a “social justice-centered” regime) suing each other for discrimination, it’s been a predictable mess under the now former chief, mayors, and others in city leadership past and present.

Regardless, this chaos is not ideal as the department continues to face catastrophic staffing issues. Not the least of these are some 280 officers who will soon be eligible to retire from the already threadbare ranks.

Remember, the current thin ranks of departments in cities like Seattle did not happen by accident. The leftist radical leaders did it to their cities even as many have left office or now quietly distance themselves from their culpability in the devastation.

The partisan radicals in these cities have committed institutional extermination of their police departments over the last several decades with their sociocultural experimentation that has mutilated public safety laws, policies, and police departments. And never forget these cities’ malicious treatment of their exceptional police officers.

Matt Markovich, at KIRO News Radio 97.3 FM, wrote, “The test has been in place since 2012 when the SPD was under the full [bogus] consent decree for biased police practices.”

Erica C. Barnett, at Publicola, recently wrote about the 2012 test, which seems to concur with my DEI concerns. “The test was designed to go beyond traditional evaluations, testing recruits for qualities like bias, personal integrity, judgment, and aptitude for the job.”

This description, “bias, personal integrity, judgment, and aptitude for the job” may sound objective, but the consent decree was anything but. And since the radicals’ relish altering the meanings of words and phrases, I’m suspicious about what hiring changes occurred under that undisclosed methodology, anti-cop, hyper-partisan-imposed, bogus consent decree.

The National Testing Network (NTN), Seattle’s test, is administered by the city’s Public Safety Civil Service Commission. Reportedly, the test is unpopular with other agencies, local and national. Markovich says only 27 agencies in Washington use the NTN test out of 187. Most use the Industrial Organizational Solutions (IOS) Public Safety Test.

Seattle City Council President Sara Nelson is looking at the IOS test “that reportedly has a higher passage rate than the one Seattle uses,” according to Markovich. Nelson supports increasing police staffing, but at what cost. Still, her support is refreshing after the caustic cadre of council defund-the-coppers, of whom only two remain.

Markovich writes that the funds and efforts put toward police hiring that began a couple of years ago have failed. The department is still hemorrhaging veteran officers while remaining unable to attract enough qualified candidates. Last year, SPD welcomed 61 officers, but nearly 100 officers departed.

This won’t change because even these new “enlightened” officials may not understand what being a good police officer means. Many still suffer from a radical leftist residue, which contaminates their critical thinking about cops?

Now here’s a truly radical thought. If you want to know what makes a good cop, ask veteran cops who do the job. What city officials and cop critics believe they want in a good cop is based on the theoretical; what veteran cops want in a good cop is based on the practical.

Markovich added that in 2022, recruit applications dropped to an anemic 1,895 from a hardly robust (compared with previous decades) 3,118 in 2019 “before the Black Lives Matter and George Floyd…” riots. Those numbers may seem adequate, but they reflect applications, not qualified candidates and certainly not recruits.

Reportedly, while 90 percent of candidates pass the other agencies’ IOS test, only 70 percent of candidates pass Seattle’s NTN test. After serving for six years as a field training officer (FTO), I certainly don’t want lower traditional police standards anywhere. Lowering these standards, specifically to increase hiring, is unacceptable—and dangerous. But if it’s the testing that is flawed, poisoned by “woke,” then I’m all for “lowering” DEI standards all the way to zero.

Communities want accurate testing to measure a candidate’s ability to do the job and create effective hiring standards. But the criteria are so hard to trust these days because, as I said, the difference between what leftist radicals believe makes a good police officer and what is a genuinely good police officer is often galaxies apart.

For example, if I were taking an entry level police exam today and got the faintest whiff of anything hinting at DEI, CRT, or leftist social justice—modern Marxism, I’d toss my No. 2 pencil back over my shoulder and dart for the exit.

Is leftist bias in police testing why, or partly why, Seattle’s candidates fail at a higher rate? Does the test ask “woke” questions that repel competent candidates because they get the social justice answers “wrong?” I don’t know. However, a twenty percent difference in the failure rate is significant no matter what’s causing it?

Barnett also wrote, “go[ing] beyond traditional evaluations?” With the traditional test, at least, the city started with solid candidates before it tries to screw them up later with increasing social justice indoctrination disguised as police training, which, fortunately, most cops successfully resist.

Regardless, what the radical left has been doing with public safety obviously doesn’t work. How do I know? Because it doesn’t work. Look around! So, should the city continue toward insanity, repeating failed “experiments,” while expecting different outcomes? Why would any sane leaders do that?

Communities can’t allow people who don’t/won’t understand or even like police work or the cops to choose what and who makes a good police officer and then expect to staff a competent, functioning police department? Fortunately, Seattleites, Portlanders, and other cities’ residents have recently taken steps toward reestablishing responsible public safety.

Nationally, we’re seeing a slow but steady return to what worked, traditional policing. People are tossing George-Soros funded “prosecutors” and other Soros-styled politicians into the trash and replacing them with pro-law-and-order people, even in uber lefty-run cities like Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.

A quote attributed to Herb Stein sums it up. “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop .” And bad public safety policies cannot go on forever.