Cincinnati, Ohio — If you doubt the veracity of law enforcement officers being above the law, look no further than the Methuen Police Department. Job applicants who said they’d never arrest a fellow officer for drunk driving were given bonus points—and interviewers knocked points off for those who would.
The Massachusetts Civil Service Division found the department was using an application question meant to separate and reward honest cops in its own inventive way—by rewarding dishonesty, instead. In fact, the department admitted as much.
Methuen presented applicants with a scenario in which they arrive at the scene of a crash where the driver appeared to be intoxicated. They were asked how they would respond if the driver were an officer from neighboring town or a family member. Obviously, the answer is designed to ferret out candidates who would show bias, but Methuen was apparently actively seeking that exact quality for their force—those who said they wouldn’t arrest friends or family had their files noted: “knows discretion.”
Christopher C. Bowman, who chairs the Civil Service Commission, said, “Some of the interview panelists actually heaped high praise on those candidates who stated that they would arrest a stranger but not arrest a friend or family member based on the same facts, citing their understanding of ‘discretion.’”
In a decision on July 9, Bowman said “the City turned the interview process upside down. There is simply no valid basis to award the highest points to candidates who express a willingness to apply one set of rules to strangers and another set of rules to friends and family members.”
Though the mayor of Methuen vowed to review police hiring practices, there was no indication that either the bias-loving panelists or the dishonest hires would face increased scrutiny.
It makes you wonder how many other police departments use such questions the same way—and if perhaps that was the point of the question all along.
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Contributed by Claire Bernish of The Anti Media.