Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks wants the Oakland Police Department to lower written exam requirements in order to open the door to greater diversity among officers.
Brooks is specifically pushing for more black officers in the Oakland PD.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Brooks chairs the Public Safety Committee and says she wants “a Police Department that’s reflective of the community they serve.” Brooks points out that the city’s black population is 28 percent but only 20 percent of officers are black. She wants to see this change.
Brooks established the “Department of Race and Equality” and succeeded in securing “$617,000 in the city budget” that will be used “to hold other city departments accountable for racial disparities in their services.” And after learning that black candidates for the police department “fail the written exam more often than they fail the physical abilities test” Brooks asked “if the department could consider eliminating the exam and allow applicants to take a course in its place.”
The Oakland PD written exam is already “scored on a curve” and counts any score of 45 or above as passing. The Oakland PD said holding 45 as the lowest passing score provides assurances that applicants “are somewhat above minimally qualified and thus more prepared to succeed in the academy, field training and as a police officer.”
Brooks asked the Oakland PD if they might consider lowering the passing score to 42.
State commission consultant Alex Blaylock responded to the push for lower written exam requirements by warning that the Oakland PD will risk hiring officers who cannot fill out an incident report or understand the very laws they are supposed to enforce if they lower standards further. Blaylock said he “[doesn’t] think race should have anything to do with [PD] standards.”
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