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NAACP Threatens to Sue N.J. State Police – Are Background Checks Too Harsh? [POLL]

Andrew Burton, Getty Images
Andrew Burton, Getty Images

Once again, there seems to be no accord between NAACP and the State Police when it comes to hiring more black police officers to the ranks of the patrol.

According to Attorney General Jeff Chiesa and State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, there’s been a greater effort in outreach to the minority community, which led to the most diverse class of candidates having graduated.

However, the feeling is that the hiring practices of the State Patrol don’t reflect “real life” situations of black candidates who are routinely disqualified due to the extensive background checks…according to one community leader.

According to this:

The path to becoming a trooper includes several steps, including an initial application and screening, physical fitness test, written exam and a background investigation.

Candidates can be disqualified for such things as drug convictions or suspended driver’s licenses. They can also be rejected after a subjective review of lesser transgressions, including arrests without convictions, a bad credit history or unpaid parking tickets.

Once complete, the background investigations are reviewed by several supervisors on the force to avoid bias, the Attorney General’s Office said.

The extensive investigations, according to the State Police, are intended to determine “moral character” and whether a candidate has demonstrated “derogatory conduct” — anything to ferret out a flawed candidate.

But an NAACP lawyer said statistics for the past several classes support the contention that the checks unfairly eliminate black candidates.

Of the 33 black candidates for the most recent class who passed the written exam, six dropped out and 22 were disqualified for failing the check, state figures show. Five were selected for the academy, but only two graduated.

The Attorney General’s Office said it had already taken steps to improve the background checks. The office said disqualifying areas were clarified, and candidates underwent pre-screenings to identify problems early. In addition, it said those performing the checks were getting more training.

Last month, Chiesa and State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes announced that the latest pool of applicants for two new classes next year was the most diverse in the force’s history. But James Harris, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, said he will not be satisfied until more black troopers are on the force.

“We’re dealing with a system that’s broken and leadership that refuses to fix it,” Harris said. “It’s about protecting people who want things to stay the same.”

So as I read between the lines, I see, “…change the standards so that there can be greater representation of black candidates on the force!”

Do you feel that’s what would be appropriate? That is, in order to integrate the force, the standards that are used for character evaluation of each candidate should be scaled back?

The standards are there for a reason…none of them being racist!

Do you feel the State Police should scale back the character evaluation standards of recruits so as to allow for more black representation on the force?


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