An association of black state troopers said Thursday that it will be filing a federal class action lawsuit against the state accusing the public safety commissioner of discriminating against black candidates seeking jobs as state troopers.
The Connecticut Chapter of the Black State Troopers Coalition, says Commissioner John Danaher arbitrarily decided to use a higher score on the written entrance exam to eliminate a majority of black state trooper applicants, who had passed the test with scores of 65 percent or better.
Traditionally if a trooper scores 65 percent or better on the written exam they’re allowed to proceed to the next set of tests, such as the agility or polygraph test, Capt. Joe Davis, president of the state coalition, said.
The coalition’s attorney John Williams, said that Danaher set the passing level at more than 85 percent. He said only 4 percent of the 16 percent of African Americans, who took the test, scored better than 85 percent and in the last three trooper classes there have only been two black candidates. Also all 16 percent of the African Americans who took the test scored between 65 and 85 percent, Williams said.
Davis said getting a higher score on a written exam doesn’t determine if someone will be a better state trooper than someone else. Williams said Commissioner Danaher recently told the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities that it costs too much money to allow applicants who pass the written exam to continue with the other tests.
Davis said the coalition went to Danaher with a suggestion that everyone who passed the written exam with a score of 65 percent or better should be able to continue with the tests and the department can make a determination based on all of the test scores at the end.
“We’re not saying Mr. Danaher invented racism in the Connecticut state police,” Williams said.
This past month, racism in the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Corrections was well-documented during an 11-hour hearing dedicated specifically to the issue. Rep. Don Clemons, D-Bridgeport, said Thursday he is supporting the class action lawsuit and finds it disheartening that he’s still fighting for equity and advancement more than 30 years after he was part of a similar lawsuit.
“The dreams and hopes of black and brown state troopers are being overlooked,” Sgt. Robert Guilbeaux of Louisiana, said Thursday. President of the National Coalition of Black State Troopers, Guilbeaux said he’s optimistic “the needle of progress is about to move.”
Williams said the class action lawsuit will be filed in U.S. District Court in two weeks.