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Feds sue Chesapeake, alleging discrimination with police test
By CINDY CLAYTON, The Virginian-Pilot
© July 25, 2006
Last updated: 1:34 PM

NORFOLK – The U.S. Justice Department has filed suit against Chesapeake, alleging that the city’s hiring practices discriminated against black and Hispanic applicants to the police department.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges that the city violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by ''using a mathematics test as a pass/fail screening device in its selection process for entry-level police officers,’’ according to a press release issued by the Justice Department. The test ''resulted in a disparate impact’’ against the applicants and wasn’t job-related ''in that it did not predict whether an applicant was able to successfully perform the job of entry-level police officer.’’

The government also had been investigating Virginia Beach for a similar complaint. On Monday, a federal judge approved a settlement with Virginia Beach agreeing to change the way it scores its police entrance examination. The Beach has offered 124 blacks and Hispanics an opportunity to continue the hiring process and has agreed to create a $160,000 pool to compensate them.

In March, the Justice Department announced it was investigating Chesapeake because of entry-level applicants’ scores on the National Police Officer Selection Test.

Between March 1, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2005, Chesapeake required applicants to score 70 percent or higher on the mathematics section of the entrance exam. But when the Justice Department reviewed scores, 57.34 percent of black applicants passed, compared with 88.91 percent of white applicants.

The Justice Department said the test had “a significant adverse impact against both African-American applicants and Hispanic applicants” and that the city failed to “demonstrate that its use of the POST mathematics test is job-related for the entry-level police officer position.”

Chesapeake City Attorney Ron Hallman has said that the city has been in talks with the Justice Department.