Reminder: some US police departments reject high-IQ candidates



Well now, I - for one - am somewhat less perplexed by the way things work in our fine nation.

This explains so much.


Apparently, it’s not discrimination because the same test applies to everyone - “Sorry, you’re too female - but it’s ok, because we apply the female test to everyone.”


As ridiculous as this policy is, it’s not discrimination in that way - after all, we’d have no problem with would-be police officers being disqualified for scoring too low on the test, would we?


It is (mostly) illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender. It is completely legal to discriminate on the basis of intelligence. (going with the definition of discrimination of “making a distinction”)


People get turned down for jobs for being “overqualified” all the time.

Seems reasonable to me that smarter people might not be that good at unquestionably following orders and enforcing rules. Perhaps the question should be " do we want police work to be a job that smarter people aren’t well suited to, and if not, how should we change the nature of police work?"


At least he went on to enjoy great success with his ‘Wheel of Time’ series.

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Does the military reject people on the basis of too-high IQ?


Nope, they just get drafted into different specialties.

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I have three friends who have at various time applied to be cops. All three were rejected. Two for being too smart and one for showing too many signs of independent decision making.

Thus, I have no friends that are cops.


So they wouldn’t hire someone like Arthur Dietrich in New Haven.


It is discrimination in that way. It is not discrimination to exclude someone from a job based on things that are tied to actual job requirements.

Rocket Scientists need to understand rockets to be effective rocket scientists. Firefighters have to be able to lift a certain amount of weight to be effective firefighters. Sex workers need to be of the appropriate sex for the target clientele of the brothel to be effective sex workers. Things that would be discriminatory for one job are not discriminatory to another.

On the other hand, if we disqualified a firefighter for being able to lift too much weight, I think eyebrows would rightly rise.

To say that this is not discriminatory is to say that one cannot be an effective police officer if one is too smart.

(On the other hand, at least in my jurisdiction, what counts and does not count as discrimination is based on defined criteria and being very smart is not one of them, so you wouldn’t have much of a legal case unless you went to the supreme court and had that confirm that was a reasonable, logical extension of the existing criteria)


This has not been kept secret at all. The thinking is, an overly smart cop will be inclined to interpret the law in a way the beurocracy didn’t anticipate, so keep them dumb and complient.

If less intelligent cops are more likely to be violent, well, that’s still acting in the beurocracys best interest. It’s not like we’re given a choice or anything.


Reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode that really freaked me out as a kid.


Well a smart officer might be more effective in my book, but my view of appropriate police behavior seems to live on a different planet than police forces’ view of what is appropriate police behavior.

If one of the requirements is “do what you’re told and don’t ask any questions” then intelligence would seem to make for an ineffective officer. Of course I also think that whiny 'fraidy delicate dollies make for bad police (“I had to shoot him because he made me so afraid!”), so what do I know?


I know you’re joking, but intelligence is not one of the 12 protected classes in the US, while sex is.

Not that that has any baring on the matter of whether the police should bar intelligent people from joining.


Applying to join a police force is pretty strong evidence that the applicant is not the kind of person I want doing police work.



In this context, it’s useful to qualify the word “discrimination.” “Discrimination” really only means distinguishing, although there’s generally a negative connotation to the word. It’s not illegal discrimination or improper discrimination to choose candidates on the basis of legitimate qualifications. It is discrimination in the broad sense of the word.

This is seems like a semantic nit-pick. However, having seen discussions get derailed on related confusions, I’ve found it useful to discriminate between the meanings of “discriminate.”


Well the reason is obvious. High-IQ detectives are always private. Look at Holmes, Poirot, Marple… heck, the only counterexample I can think of is Clousseau.


Then there was Columbo, but no one knew his IQ because fuck your tests!