Court OKs Barring Smart People From Becoming Cops (Really)


Reader Ryan McCormick sends this amazing story from ABC News. Robert Jordan wanted to be a cop and he applied for a job as such in New London, Connecticut.

His problem? He scored too high on the IQ proxy test and was thus excluded from consideration.

Jordan, a 49-year-old college graduate, took the exam in 1996 and scored 33 points, the equivalent of an IQ of 125. But New London police interviewed only candidates who scored 20 to 27, on the theory that those who scored too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after undergoing costly training.

Most Cops Just Above Normal The average score nationally for police officers is 21 to 22, the equivalent of an IQ of 104, or just a little above average.

Jordan sued for discrimination but to no avail. Here's what a federal court ruled:

The U.S. District Court found that New London had "shown a rational basis for the policy." In a ruling dated Aug. 23, the 2nd Circuit agreed. The court said the policy might be unwise but was a rational way to reduce job turnover.

Too smart for police work, "Jordan has worked as a prison guard since he took the test."

Read the whole thing here.

O Officer Krupke, O humanity.

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  1. That explains a lot.

    It also echoes the comment someone made here recently about cops: the exact type of people that want to be cops are the exact type of people that shouldn’t be cops.

    1. In that sentence, “cops” can be replaced with any of the following groups:

      teenage parents
      climate scientists
      HOA committee members

      1. Speaking as someone who was just elected to my HOA board, I object to one of these.

        1. Fucker.

          I good friend of mine is his HOA president and I mock him for it too.

        2. Did you campaign for the spot?

      2. I would like to add:
        newspaper reporter
        TV anchor

    2. I’m on my HOA board (a position I got just by actually being present at the annual meeting..). It mostly sucks because we just have to find contractors to do maintenance. Two of us serve as a cockblock for rulesy mcrulesalot who has an opinion about everyone and everything.

      1. Two of us serve as a cockblock for rulesy mcrulesalot who has an opinion about everyone and everything.

        There’s one on every board.

        I remember when I lived in a condo in a dense, walkable, hip neighborhood. There was always one person in the condo (small complex of 8 units) who complained of all the corresponding features of a dense, walkable hip neighborhood.

        Yes, these are the people that move into the entertainment district and then complain that there are entertainments going on.

      2. You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar. I didn’t know such selfless people still existed. Or are you one of those people who took the position as a means of self defense?

        1. When the results are the same either way I would dare say it doesn’t quite matter.

      3. rulesy mcrulesalot

        This is the main reason I will never own a home that’s governed by an HOA. I’ll be damned before I let some nosy busybody tell me what I can and can’t do with my property. It’s bad enough that the government tries to tell people what to do, let alone some private asshat on a power trip.

        Government, I have to deal with. HOAs can go fuck themselves.

        1. I live under a very powerful HOA. It’s called marriage. Everything has to go before committee.

          HOA’s can be excessive, but they are ultimately voluntary (that is, you don’t have to buy that house if you don’t want to be in that HOA), and some of us do, voluntarily, want to preserve our property values. They also have the value of providing liability insurance for protection against crazy suing. That said, I wish they were weaker in most cases.

          1. I would never ever, ever, ever consider buying a house with an HOA. I’m not that stupid. Fuck you I can’t park a trans am on the lawn.

            That being said, I support them as an alternative to zoning laws.

  2. The U.S. District Court found that New London had “shown a rational basis for the policy.” In a ruling dated Aug. 23, the 2nd Circuit agreed. The court said the policy might be unwise but was a rational way to reduce job turnover.

    But giving a test to weed out people who are too stupid is racist or something.

    What if the police test requirements had a disparate impact on Asian applicants?

    1. It’s just fucking random these days.

    2. It’s OK to discriminate against Asians.

    3. What if the police test requirements had a disparate impact on Asian applicants?

      I’m guessing the really smart applicants would have researched this, found out about the IQ cutoff, and deliberately missed some questions on the test to fall in the approved range.

      And then either quit the force shortly after being hired, or rose to Chief of Police.

    4. But they DO give the test to weed out people who are too stupid. As the artcile clearly indicated, they are looking for a specific range of scores that fall in the “above average” category – not genius, and not dumb. It’s actually the ideal category for workers for most jobs; the stupid aren’t competent enough to do a good job, and the very smart do tend to get bored quickly and quit. I get that it’s discrimination, but, from a practical standpoint as an employer, it’s a wise range to target. Law enforcement also attempt to weed out the too racist and too crazy with required pysch tests, though they don’t always suceed, obviously.

      1. Then again, why shouldn’t employers be able to discriminate based on the qualities they think will be best for the job at hand? If an employer thinks that a 140 IQ is not a good match for the position of janitor, shouldn’t he be free to make that call? Of course, this is complicated by the fact that the employer is the state, and not a private entity, and thus discrimination is an issue.

  3. Griggs v. Duke Power Co?

    1. Yo, where the fuck did my parachute go?

  4. The average score nationally for police officers is 21 to 22, the equivalent of an IQ of 104, or just a little above average.

    otoh, if you ignore outliers like dunphy and his IQ of 258, the average moves a little below average. hth.

    1. Dude, don’t make fun of Dunphy. He was captain of his college surf team.

    2. The other thing is that since people with scores below 70 aren’t eligible to take it, you only get one arm of the bell curve.

  5. What the hell is it with New London, anyway?

    1. Take off. Nuke from orbit. Be sure.

    2. I was thinking the same thing. Courts just love the statist policies out of that town.

  6. Smart people are too stupid to intentionally write a few wrong answers on the test. Or something.

    I’m sure dunphy knew all this when he took the test since he’s a superhero.

    1. I’m pretty sure he’s said that he did that.

      1. Yeah, he’s not really an idiot, he was just pretending.

  7. Isn’t this story quite old? Even the article about the court ruling linked to is 13 years old. Not that I don’t remember it from the time, and find it interesting enough.

    1. Yep, it made it’s appearance here many years ago. I remember Jennifer acidly ripping apart the implications. Fun days.

    2. Look, Nick has a big backlog okay? He spent a lot of time pimping his book and hanging out on Bill Maher’s show. So he’s working through stuff that was written before anyone knew what a Cumberbatch was.

      1. Dude, he absolutely is one of the best actors of our time. I am not kidding or being sarcastic. Dude made Sherlock in just one episode my favorite portrayal. I can’t wait for Star Trek. I am in love with him.

        (no homo)

        1. have you seen him in Stuart: A Life Backwards? Terrific stuff. Also seen him do Van Gogh

          1. currently deploying obsessive wife on that front…details as the become available.

  8. Dunphy actually was dq’d based on his IQ exam results. But then he got his band, Van Halen, to play at the police chief’s 25th wedding anniversary. When the chief heard Dunphy shredding away on guitar, he had a change of heart and hired him onto the force.

    1. After which Dunphy banged the police chief’s daughter. The chief actually caught him mid-coitus, but Dunphy just gave him the thumbs up.

      ‘Hahahaha!’ said the chief. ‘I can’t stay mad at you!’

      1. ‘Hahahaha!’ said the chief. ‘I can’t stay mad at you!’

        After which he invited him to bang his wife and mother, which Dunphy did, of course, expertly bringing each to orgasm between 6 to 9 times before heading out to the West Coast Surfing Championships where he has taken first place 4 years running.

        1. At the surfing championships, he did a few Terry stops while shredding and busted a notorious human organ smuggling ring that was exporting kidneys and livers to North Korea via submarine, which he swam down to, latched on with a big rope and landed on the beach before offering the entire crew asylum. The afterparty was tremendous.

          1. At the after party, a seperatist organization trying to wage war for an independent Washington burst in guns blazing.

            ‘We have but one demand!’ yelled the leader. ‘That we might secede from this most oppressive union and create our own Republic, in the great North West!’

            ‘Not on my watch,’ the Dunphmeister muttered softly, removing his eye patch for effect. ‘Have at ye, scoundrels.’

            And with that, the fight was joined.

            1. How have one of us not composed a mocking “The Ballad of Dunphy” yet?

              I am unmusical, but someone else here must be able to at least pluck a few chords.

              1. http://fiverr.com/

                I bet we could get someone on there to do it.

                1. Now to think up a chorus.

                  I’m sort of thinking of the rhythm being the same as “The Hero of Canton”

                  1. The hero of Reason, the man they call Vain.

                    1. Slow Clap to each and every one of you.

    2. Was this before or after his victory at the powerlifting championships made Morgan Fairchild declare her undying love?

      1. It was during, of course. Don’t try to minimize his awesomeness.

      2. Why the hell are we not hiring Peter Bagge to draw and ink the graphic novel to our crowdsourced Dunphy fan fic?

        1. “Dunphy fan fic” are three words that should never, ever go together. Yet I LOL’ed.

        2. Peter Bagge is Dunphy.

          1. Believe it or not, this has been my working hypothesis for a while. The Seattle connection is obvious.

    3. He actually claimed to have intentional missed questions so he would score too high on his IQ test.

      Which makes him especially dishonest.

      1. Wait, this actually happened? I thought this was a joke.

        1. No, he said it.

  9. the theory that those who scored too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after undergoing costly training.

    Undoubtedly. That must be it.

    1. I love it that people with 104 IQs have theories.

      1. It’s kinda cute. Like children pretending to be superheroes. You know it’s not real, but you don’t say anything because the naivety it just so adorable.

  10. Maybe Bob Levy will provide a libertarian justification for this.

    1. I totally support this policy, because the mix of evil and genius could lead to another Dr. Doom or Lex Luthor or Eric Holder.

      And those guys are not Libertarians.

  11. so cop = DERP. No shit.

  12. Stupid policy. Stupider lawsuit. The court was right.

  13. Isn’t this story several years old?

    1. Looked up to make sure… the ruling was 13 years ago.

  14. Slow news day?

  15. One would think that Reason would not be criticizing the judge in this case but lauding him for allowing someone to set the criteria for hiring based on rational and reasoned thought. A judge ruling that employers can set these rules is just what Reason stands for, is it not?

    It is clearly a risk that someone who is way over-qualified for a job will be a “short term” employee and thus you have to try to mitigate that risk as an employer. The employer can mitigate the risk by requiring that someone who leave somehow pay back the investment in the employee, by refusing to hire people who you think are flight risks or any number of other ways. But the decision is the employers and the judge is right in this case.

    1. (thumbs up)

    2. I think employers should be able to discriminate based on race, but not governments.

      Cops are government, ergo….

    3. lol – so you have zero concerns with all possible implications of a policy which seeks to ensure police aren’t “that smart”?

      The police… you know, those individuals who can jail people, use deadly force against them, bust down doors to serve warrants, call out swat teams and snipers, utilize urban assault vehicles… those people.

      You have no concerns?

  16. What’s the problem? Many lower-ranked grad schools didn’t accept me because my resume was too good and they thought I was going to leave for a higher-ranked school as soon as I got a better offer. (Cue the jokes about how that’s just what I told myself.) Based on their experience with other candidates, they were right. The top-ranked schools also didn’t accept me because I wasn’t smart enough. I got accepted to a nice middle range.

    The job market does this sort of thing all the time. This story just got on Reason’s website because it’s amusing and it gives libertarians another chance to complain about the police.

    1. There’s a key difference between Wal-Mart and the police. I’ll let you try and figure out what that is.

      1. I can avoid Wal-Mart?

      2. In how the agents of the labor market behave, they are the same. Nice try, though.

        1. *WOOOSH*

  17. Well, it explains Dunphy at least.

    1. Sorry Dunphy, its just easy.

  18. The thing that is interesting about the IQ relation to applicant status is that they probably fear higher IQs being able to figure out ways to game the system or manipulate and break the law, e.g. Serpico’s co-workers. Meanwhile, they only hire people who have lower IQs who in turn are more likely to be easily corrupted into gaming the system or manipulating and breaking the law.

    A real Catch-22.

    1. People with lower IQs are more compliant and malleable. Those with higher IQs would figure out their own way to game the system and only benefit themselves. Low IQ cops can be molded and trained to follow the corrupt who are above them. (i.e. the people doing the hiring).

      So you see, it makes perfect sense. It’s not that they don’t want the corruption and gaming, it’s that they don’t want corruption and gaming that doesn’t benefit THEM.

  19. A judge ruling that employers can set these rules is just what Reason stands for, is it not?

    Get back to us when a PRIVATE employer is involved.

  20. I have a very good friend, who like me is was a STEM student. He got a degree in Mathematics, and is quite possibly one of the smartest people I know. He became a cop.

    I’m sure there are SOME departments who don’t want intelligent people working there, but that isn’t the case here (Los Angeles).

    1. Yea, I work with tons of wicked smaht people, too. What agencies look for in their officers varies a LOT. Some more progressive agencies require college degrees. It’s really notable when you look at how they disqualify people for stuff picked up in the MMPI. That’s very telling metric for what their philosophy is about what an officer’s mental makeup should be.

      When I applied in LA (LAPD) that was back when they could still discriminate on account of race. I didn’t stand a chance. They told me straight up I easily had a high enough test score for a black male/female, hispanic male/female etc. but without military points as a (presumably) white male? I think I needed a 92 iirc on the oral exam.

  21. This story came out right before I applied for my current job, so I hedged and purposefully answered a few questions incorrectly on the IQ test.

    One of the first things the psych said during the interview was “nice IQ score…one of the highest we’ve seen”. And like I said, I did answer a few wrong on purpose.


    The stats in this article match what I saw in the FBILEJ about Average cop IQ which was 105-110. I’m not sure if this article with the 104 measures cops when they are hired, or the average street cop (we lose a LOT of cops to firings and resignations in the first 4 yrs)

    Regardless, it is a concern of agencies that people with “too” high IQ’s become “bored” and look for career opp’s elsewhere. And when it costs well over 100k to screen, background check, train, etc. and get him up to speed to be on his own, I can understand (not saying I agree) with the logic.

    It’s similar to how they use MMPI scores to disqualify people, essentially looking for outliers in certain categories that have proven to be problematic. Of course, different agencies have different ways of working and an aggressiveness or idependence score(s) that might be too high for one agency that runs two man cars and tightly supervised troops might be just right for one that runs one man cars and expects more officer autonomy (like a rural sheriff’s office).

    That being said, the court decision was correct. There was a rational (if imo wrong) basis to discriminate.

    1. Sigh.

      1. Smooches. Note I had a nerve block done today so these posts enhanced by fentanyl.

        1. I really like smart people… especially the ones who aren’t always trying to show how smart they are.

  22. Why is this suddenly news now? Didn’t it happen 13 years ago?

    Not that it isn’t a good story, but still.

    1. This is bound to happen when you live in the conservative echo chamber.

  23. I’m trying to figure out why a story I read 13 years ago is suddenly getting traction from Reason in 2013. Or why the earliest reader comment on the page is from 2011. Unless this is some kind of world record for jury deliberation.

  24. Hmmm….maybe that’s why those cops in Boston, after 18 hours, couldn’t find the bomber hiding in a boat.

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