Too Smart To Be a Cop?

A blog about business and economics.
May 1 2013 1:17 PM

Too Smart To Be a Cop?

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Police officers stand outside the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse after authorities arrested three men today in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings on May 1, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Via Nick Gillespie, here's a story of a guy who got rejected as a candidate to be a cop in New London, Connecticut on the grounds that his score on an IQ test was too high.

Since Gillespie writes for Reason, and since Reason is a libertarian magazine, and since the New London Police Department is a public sector entity, Gillespie seems to treat this outcome as obviously absurd and the failure of the victim's discrimination lawsuit as sad. The department's stated reason, however, seems reasonably clear and sensible—namely that they think people with such high scores will get bored with the job quickly and leave after obtaining expensive training.

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My guess is, if this story were about a private firm that had been successfully sued, we would be reading Reason articles about out-of-control lawsuits and the wisdom of private-sector managers.

Be that as it may, the whole idea of using intelligence tests in employment—perhaps instead of looking at what college someone went into as a proxy for intelligence testing—is an interesting one, but it continues to be fraught with legal worries.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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