You would think that would be a given.

That is, as a New Jersey State Trooper, you’d be required to take a written test, along with some kind of oral exam, in order to be promoted.

However, a recent report suggests that we are one of two states to promote troopers based on supervisors' opinions; and that alone!

Now, I realize that in the private sector, your supervisor’s opinion of you and the quality of your work would alone suffice in order for you to merit a promotion…but again, we’re talking about the NJ State Police.

An agency that has been accused of having a “good old boy’s” network.

And with this revelation, one would think that a promotion system devoid of some kind of objective criteria would give the impression that that image isn’t unfounded.

Other states surveyed use structured, scenario-based interviews, written exams or verbal exams, called oral “boards,” to assess rank-and-file candidates seeking supervisory jobs. Many use a combination and have done so for many years.

As it stands in New Jersey, State Police supervisors at several levels meet and rank troopers eligible for promotion to middle management on a scale of 1 to 100, taking into consideration education, years of service, experience, performance and employee evaluations.

But there are no interviews or objective scoring, which many say leaves the state vulnerable to lawsuits by troopers claiming they were wrongly passed over for promotion.

The state Attorney General’s Office defends the practice as effective and efficient. A spokesman for the office, Paul Loriquet, stressed that troopers are evaluated on a predetermined set of criteria and that tests do not necessarily measure leadership.

Asked why the State Police, which has about 2,700 troopers, used a system unlike most other states, Loriquet said implementing some form of exam was “worth a discussion.” He also noted the State Police are accredited by a nationally recognized commission that reviews, among other things, promotions.

In most states, written exams determine candidates’ knowledge of laws and agency rules and regulations.

Verbal exams require troopers to respond on-the-spot to management scenarios. Some states also use hands-on assessments, like reviewing police reports for errors.
Most troopers are then ranked, and top brass selects from that list.

So, here, you can have an officer who can be a great test-taker, but not necessarily great in the “common sense” arena.

Or visa versa.

But don’t you feel that a combination of written and oral testing should be done to promote the best candidates within the ranks of the New Jersey State Police? Especially to diminish the appearance of impropriety?