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Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety
Office of the Attorney General
John J. Farmer, Jr., Attorney General
New Jersey Settles NAACP Lawsuit
TRENTON — New Jersey and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and a class of unhired trooper applicants have settled a four-year-old lawsuit against the State Police by agreeing to a plan to emphasize both stringent educational standards and the need for diversity in the ranks, Attorney General John J. Farmer, Jr. announced today.
According to the agreement, signed by the State and both the national
NAACP and its New Jersey Chapter, State Police has made a commitment to
aggressively recruit a diverse pool of qualified applicants to take the
written trooper qualification test.
said the State hopes that over the next three years it will be able to
recruit a pool of qualified applicants who have four-year college degrees
and are reflective of New Jersey's diversity. If the state is able to
do so, it can then move under terms of the agreement to using a four-year
college degree as the exclusive State Police entrance requirement.
the state is not able to realize its hope within the three-year period,
it is committed for another four years to using newly-expanded eligibility
criteria set forth in the agreement.
New Jersey will now recruit and select State Police applicants who have
60 college credit hours and two years or more of life experience "indicating
the maturity of the applicant."
life experience, Farmer said, need not be limited to police or military
service, as was the case previously. It can also include two years of
satisfactory employment that brings desirable skills into the corps. The
new eligibility standard is in place for recruiting the 119th State Police
The prior standard, in effect since 1993, had required all prospective
troopers to have either a four-year college degree or 60 college credits
and at least two years of military or police experience.
Prior to 1993, State Police applicants needed to possess only a high school
diploma or a GED.
said he is confident the new settlement agreement will meet the equally
vital goals of generating educated, qualified State Police applicants
while also ensuring equity in the recruitment of minority candidates.
believe this is a very forward looking and innovative approach," the Attorney
Farmer noted that the agreement does not stipulate any assurances for
minority applicants taking the test. All candidates must meet the same
high standards to gain entrance to the State Police Academy.
"There is no quota involved here -- no requirement that the State police
appoint or hire any specific number of minorities," Farmer said.
"We're going to go out and recruit the most diverse class possible, then
let every candidate stand on his or her own merit. What this agreement
does is level the playing field."
addition to expanded recruitment criteria, the settlement agreement calls
for State Police to use an applicant test other than the Law Enforcement
Candidate Record (LECR) for at least the next three years -- the duration
of a Superior Court Consent Order memorializing the settlement.
In place of the LECR, a battery of new tests has been chosen, including
those designed to measure cognitive ability, reading comprehension and
math, as well as a cutting edge video test aimed at gauging an applicant's
judgment in handling potentially dangerous situations that can confront
The latter test is accomplished by presenting applicants with a virtual
version of numerous scenarios -- a domestic violence episode, for example,
or a minor public drinking incident that threatens to escalate into a
crowd disturbance - and having the applicant choose options for handling
Farmer noted that the standard for all entry level testing used by State
Police will be that it provide an excellent measure of the potential of
all trooper applicants.
To further ensure equity in recruitment and job performance, each of the
unhired African-American and Hispanic applicants from the 114th through
118th State Police Academy classes have been invited to re-apply for the
119th and 120th Academy classes.
terms of the settlement agreement, any re-applying class members who were
disqualified because of the old education requirement - and continue to
meet all other criteria - will be treated as invited applicants eligible
to take the State Police examination.
The agreement also calls for the state to pay 10 unhired State Police
applicants individual settlement sums totaling $355,000 in recognition
of their participation in the lawsuit. The state has also agreed to pay
the attorneys' fees and related costs incurred by the plaintiffs, although
that aspect of the settlement is still in negotiation and no precise amount
has been determined at this point.
Farmer said that recruiting a diverse field of State police applicants
is, and will remain, a top priority of the state. Under the leadership
of new superintendent Col. Carson Dunbar, the State Police has launched
a comprehensive advertising campaign to attract minority candidates, he
noted, and the size of the agency's recruiting staff has been doubled
from 12 to 24 officers.
Feb. 26, about 2,000 prospective troopers took the written entrance exam
for the 119th recruit class. Those applicants were selected based on the
"blind" screening of a pool of about 5,000 applicants with guidance from
a private human resource consulting firm that specializes in public safety
employment. Blind screening refers to the fact that all names and indications
of race, gender, ethnicity and other factors were removed from the applications
prior to their being reviewed.
Attorney General said that, ultimately, the new settlement agreement retains
the same spirit of a merit-based approach to State Police recruiting while
enhancing both the agency's recruitment practices and bolstering public
confidence in the organization.
convinced we can recruit a very well educated and diverse State Police
force," Farmer said. "And, as you can see from the terms of this agreement,
we're willing to bet the four-year college requirement on our ability
to do so."