Reassessing Physical Ability Testing for Police Officers
A declining applicant pool of police officer candidates is a major issue facing law enforcement. The challenge for law enforcement is to evaluate ways to increase applicant pools. History in law enforcement suggests that qualified candidates have been eliminated from consideration for various reasons that were later discovered to be inaccurate. A current segment of the population, namely disabled persons, seem to be mirroring the fate of prior candidates. They are being eliminated from consideration for employment as police officers because of invalid physical ability testing standards. Law enforcement agencies should reassess existing pre-employment physical ability testing standards for police officers to make certain the measures tested are validated and meet the job requirements for the positions. Discussion will center on the physical ability tests and their applicableness to the actual essential tasks being performed. An evaluation of the American with Disabilities Act and other discrimination laws as it relates to physical ability testing will result in demonstrating that many law enforcement agencies may be in violation of federal law. In addition, discussion will center on the assertion that many persons with disabilities often adapt to their environment and most probably, with the ongoing technological advancements, could adapt to the essential functions of the position of police officer. The conclusions, based on the research, results in a suggestion that law enforcement evaluate current physical ability standards to affirm that they are valid and based on scientific data for each respective agency. In addition, the proposition advises that agencies continually assess their physical ability standards testing to ensure compliance with the American with Disabilities Act and other discrimination laws.