DALLAS, TX – The Dallas Police Department announced Monday night that it was reinstating field sobriety test training for officer recruits after concerns were raised that the exam was more prone to flunking minority recruits than whites.
Chief David Brown has determined that the curriculum meets established standards, based on consultation with a state administrator, the department said in a news release.
“Satisfied that the curriculum meets the state and national standards and that steps have been taken for consistent application, Chief Brown has ordered that … training resume,” the written statement said.
Brown declined to comment further Monday night. He has not publicly explained the possible link between failing tests and race, saying he was awaiting the review that he had ordered.
Black Police Association of Greater Dallas president Cletus Judge has said some officers were concerned that only black recruits were failing the practical portion of the field sobriety test exam.
But critics, including a former head of the association, criticized Brown’s suspension of the training, arguing that the testing, which requires recruits to check the sobriety of people at various levels of intoxication, was not related to race.
Brown had said a review showed that over the last five years, three Hispanic recruits, five black recruits and one white recruit flunked out of the academy because they couldn’t pass the test.
Last week, a supervisor in the training academy had sent an email within the department that said a commander had ordered a stop to the practical portion of the field sobriety exam. Recruits would have to pass only a written exam, which was developed under National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards.
In Monday’s statement, the department said it had determined that its written and proficiency tests meet state and national standards. That conclusion was reached in consultation with David McGarah, the state administrator for the DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing program.