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CSC rejects police captain's appeal

By By Suzanne Monk / managing editor
July 10, 2002
The Meridian Civil Service Commission ruled Tuesday that there was nothing wrong with a test administered April 17 to candidates for the position of assistant police chief.
The validity of the test had been questioned by Capt. Theresa Cutright, one of eight Meridian police officers who scored less than 70 percent failing the test and eliminating themselves as candidates.
Cutright complained to the Civil Service Commission in early May; the appointment of an assistant chief has been on hold since then.
Outlined in a public hearing on June 27, Cutright's concerns fell into two broad categories: 1) that the questions were out of date; and 2) that "points" were added to raw scores in an improper manner.
Outdated questions
The CSC rejected Cutright's claim that the test was obsolete. Cutright had argued that up-to-date test questions are especially important in a work environment so influenced by technology, court rulings and procedural changes.
Extra points
Commissioners also ruled that there was no problem with the addition of "points" to applicants' raw test scores.
CSC procedures allow "extra points" when no applicant passes the test for a position. The idea is to add points in such a way that the most qualified test-takers in the group are raised into passing territory without discriminating against other people with close, but lower, scores.
In the case of the assistant police chief test, the highest raw score was 68. In other words, nobody passed. The same number of points was added to each score raising three people into the passing range.
Cutright was not one of them.
She presented the commissioners with information about extra points in the police chief test, and other tests for city positions, and argued that there should be some degree of uniformity over time in the number of points added to CSC exams.
The CSC acknowledged that deciding how many points to add in any particular test requires subjective judgment, but said the examining board acted correctly.
Now that Cutright's concerns have been heard, an assistant police chief is expected to be appointed as soon as possible.
What's next?
The Meridian Civil Service Commission on Tuesday certified a list of three candidates for the position of assistant police chief: Capt. Betty Evans, Capt. Keith McCary and Lt. Al Brown. Police Chief Benny DuBose will recommend one of these officers for the position. His choice must then be approved by the mayor.