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.... Presently the examination consists of eighteen (18) standardized questions covering specific job related areas dealing with a candidate's previous criminal activities, use of drugs, latent physical deficiencies and work history. These questions are then verified by polygraph evaluation and the candidates responses, together with the polygraph evaluation, are assigned a numerical score by a three-member committee consisting of the Chief of Police, a personnel evaluator and a lay member of the general populace, applying pre-set standards to the given responses. This numerical evaluation is then considered together with scores from other facets of the pre-employment testing in making a final determination of selection or non-selection.67

Acting Chief Jack Swanson stated his belief that the polygraph issue

finally has been settled by introducing the new procedures. He commented that

at one time the police division had a polygraph operator on its staff but

stopped administering the test because of complaints that it was not being

handled fairly. Then a person outside the department was hired (but from

Omaha) and the problem worsened. Acting Chief Swanson did not foresee the

police division taking back the responsibility for the test because there would be too much "suspicion. 68

After the polygraph, candidates are interviewed by one of three panels.

Acting Chief Swanson stated that these are composed entirely of police

personnel, each panel consisting of three officers with the rank of lieutenant

or captain. Currently there is only one black officer on one of the panels,

there had been two at one point. Appearance is considered by the panel

although a candidate would not be rejected on appearance alone. Questions are

asked from a list of set categories so while the categories covered remain the

same for all candidates, specific questions might change. Acting Chief

Swanson said the interviewers receive 16 hours of training on interview

techniques. 69

However, the oral interview was criticized by members of the Midwest Guardians as being instructured. They alleged irrelevant and perhaps

even illegal questions were used. They stated it is impossible to check

because there is no set of specific questions. They believe a civilian or at

least a representative of the personnel department should be on the interview

panels. They are also concerned that there is only one black on one


Mr. Troutman said the oral interview process is being reviewed to determine if civilians could be added to the panels. 71

By December 1981, nine of the 14 blacks in the September 1981 recruit class had either resigned or been dropped.72 This rate of failure caused

questions to be raised about the entire selection procedure.

One citizen, Mary Jane Harvey, said she believed something was wrong if an applicant could pass the selection devices and then fail the training.73 Fred Conley agreed. 74

Members of the Midwest Guardians called the September recruit class an

"insult to all black citizens." They believe that when so many blacks fail

training after being certified as qualified, there are problems in the

selection tools. One member of the Midwest Guardians went so far as to say he

thought the recruits had been chosen to fail, saying it was common knowledge

that the class had been told that just because the division had to hire 40

percent black did not mean 40 percent of the training graduates would be


Mr. Troutman denied that the city had lowered its standards for the

September class. He did say, though, that recruits from that class were

chosen "from the bottom of the list" in order to have enough to meet the 40

percent minority goal. It should be noted though that everyone on the list had qualified. Mr. Troutman believes that the entire city will see changes

with the February recruit class that will give them confidence in the police division.76

Recruit Training

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, in its 1981 report on police

practices, has pointed out, as do numerous experts cited therein, that the

police spend a large proportion of their time providing "social services" and

very little time pursuing criminals. The Commission said that few departments

provide much training for the bulk of the work, including race relations, actually performed by officers.77 This is apparently also true in Omaha.

Currently training of police recruits is an in-house function. The police

provide 672 hours of training for the recruits.

Of these, two are devoted to

handling domestic complaints, three to civil rights laws, five to

police-community relations, three to officer stress, three to child abuse,

three to spouse abuse and four to handling the mentally ill.


Thus, a

maximum of 23 hours or about four percent of the class time is devoted to the

problems officers will encounter in dealing with minorities and women.

Ruth Jackson, director of the city's human relations department, said more

human relations training might be useful for the police. About eight or ten

years ago her office did the human relations training for the police


But one year, she said, they were not invited back.

She believes

the human relations training is now done by the division. She feels the training is very necessary because police officers often see only the worst

elements of each group and sometimes that only reinforces the prejudices they

may have. 79

According to members of the Midwest Guardians, training instructor

positions are considered "cushion" jobs and in effect there is no competition for vacancies.80 According to the union contract which sets out the terms of employment in the police division, sworn personnel bid on assignments based

on seniority. However, the chief can circumvent the system under special

circumstances to make assignments on a case by case basis. The chief of


police has the exclusive right to assign the captain and lieutenant of training. 81 Additionally, the organizational chart provided by the police division shows two sergeants in the training section. 82

training section.82 Instructors are police personnel who receive some training at Northwestern University.83

The officers from the Midwest Guardians alleged that because of the consent

decree some of the white instructors were passed over for promotions and now

take their frustrations out on the black recruits.

Ethnic jokes in the

classroom were said to be common.

There were no black instructors for the

September 1981 class until a black officer was assigned there about halfway

through the training after the Midwest Guardians and the Ministerial Alliance

expressed their concern about the number of black recruits who were

failing. 84

The personnel department also played a part in the assignment of

a black officer to do the recruit training. In a series of meetings with the

mayor, the personnel department urged that the temporary assignment of the black officer be made permanent which it was.85 The officer said he had

previously applied for an instructor's position but the application "never got


Members of the Midwest Guardians said the instructors are evaluated by the

students but the officers expressed the opinion that students probably would

be reluctant to express their true feelings because they doubt the

confidentiality of the process. The officers would prefer a more independent evaluation process.


Mr. Troutman stated that the lieutenant in charge of

training reviews the evaluations. 88

Members of the Midwest Guardians also believe the tests developed to cover

the training material are inappropriate because they are not a true measure of whether students are learning what they should. They believe that under the

terms of the consent decree they are entitled to copies of the tests to determine if the questions are appropriate. (Because new tests are written

for each class they do not believe there would be a security problem. They want to determine that the questions are correctly written.)89

Mr. Troutman said the city administration was distressed because so many

recruits in the September class failed.

A tutoring program was established

after the class to help the recruits who failed to improve their study habits

and writing skills. A similar tutoring program will be a standard part of the training program beginning with the February 1982 recruit class.90

Participation in the first tutoring program was offered to the recruits in the September class who failed for academic reasons.91 Mr. Troutman

stressed that he did not consider the tutoring program for these recruits

"special treatment." He said the recruits' academic problems should have come


to someone's attention earlier in the training. If it had, amends could have

been made then and the recruits would not have been in the position of losing

their jobs. He also said the recruit class was too large for good

instruction. 92

Members of the Midwest Guardians agreed with him on that

point. 93

Mr. Troutman said he felt that the city had a "moral obligation" to pay

the recruits in the tutoring program because they had given up their jobs and

had made a real commitment to becoming police officers. They were paid at a lower rate than if they had passed the training course. While only blacks

were in the special tutoring program, Mr. Troutman said that anyone who had had academic problems would have been offered the same opportunity.94

The recruits going through the tutoring program had to go through the

entire application process again according to Mr. Troutman. This was to avoid problems with seniority (which begins accruing when the recruit starts training) and also to give new applicants an equal chance at the vacancies. Mr. Troutman added that recruits who were accepted the second time would not be counted as part of the 40 percent minority goal.95

The tutoring program for the five black officers who failed the classroom

training was criticized by members of the Midwest Guardians. They said the

fact that the recruits were paid caused resentment and charges of unfair

treatment by other officers. One of the officers interviewed said if the

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