65 Of 94 Cops Pass Sergeants Exam

Paul Bass PhotoPaul Bass PhotoA Fair Haven beat cop known for grabbing illegal guns topped the long-awaited list of potential new sergeants released Tuesday.

The list was certified and released Tuesday afternoon at a meeting of the Civil Service Commission. It revealed how 94 city cops scored on a recent exam for promotion to sergeant. Sixty-five out of 94 cops passed the exam; they needed to score a 70 to pass.

The department has 21 vacancies to fill right now. It also has 10 lieutenant vacancies, which will create a need for more sergeants next year after candidates take a lieutenant’s exam.

The commission unanimously approved the list. Click here to read it.

The list’s release was eagerly anticipated for several reasons. The department hasn’t promoted anyone to sergeant for years, meaning lots of cops have been waiting for a chance to advance. That has also meant that the department has struggled with a severe lack of supervisors.

Arguments over the previous sergeant’s exam have ended up in court, throwing another wrench into the mix.

The top scorer, with a score of 88.35 out of 100, was Derek Gartner, a five-and-a-half-year veteran of the force who has twice been named an Independent “cop of the week.” Click here and here to read those stories.

Detective Wayne Bullock scored second with an 87.57. Just behind him with an 87.25 score came Renee Forte, who patrols with the popular police dog Bitang. (Read about some of their adventures here.)

Hispanic cops did not score well in the exam. The racial breakdown of promotions has proved a controversial subject in both the fire and police departments; read about some of that here. Thirty-four out of 40 white candidates passed; 20 out of 33 blacks passed; and 10 out of 20 Hispanics. One Asian took the exam and passed it.

Thomas MacMillan PhotoOther top scorers: Sean Maher came in fourth with 86.91; Dietrich Hernandez fifth with 86.88; John Healy sixth with 85.15; Roy Davis seventh with 84.87; Detective Rose Dell (pictured) next with 84.23; then Stephan Torquati with 84.08 and Karl Jacobson with 83.28.

Officer James Evarts, who last year almost lost his job in a disciplinary proceeding, emerged successful with an 83.26 score, which placed him 11th on the list, followed by Detective Tammi Means, who works in internal affairs.

Police commissioners will now interview the top-scoring candidates and decide whom to promote using the Rule of Three, which means they must start from the top of the list and may skip over no more than two names.

The Civil Service Commission took up the matter at its 12:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday in the Hall of Records. Assistant Chief Denise Blanchard and one cop who took the test showed up to find out the results, which had been kept secret even to the police department top brass. They ended up waiting over an hour to find out the results, as the commission dealt with another matter in executive session.

“My blood pressure isn’t going to take this. My heart’s going to explode,” said the expectant cop as he waited in the hallway. (He didn’t want his photo taken because he does undercover work.)

Melissa Bailey PhotoThe commission reopened its doors. Noelia Marcano (pictured), the city’s personnel director, ran through the promotions process. She said the city issued a Request for Proposals in 2011 for an outside company to create the exam. Bids closed Oct. 18, 2011. The city chose Booth Research Group (BRG) of Parker, Colo.

At BRG’s suggestion, the city’s labor relations department and the police union agreed on a test that weighed the oral examination more heavily than the written. BRG came up with a test whose written component counted for 35 percent of the final grade; and three oral exams weighed 65 percent.

A total of 94 cops took the written and oral exams. The written portion included 100 multiple-choice questions and lasted three hours. Thirty cops from outside Connecticut administered the oral exam; they asked questions based on “realistic situations” a sergeant would have to deal with, according to Marcano.

The written portion tested cops’ understanding of local and state police protocols. Cops found the test difficult, Marcano reported.

“Performance on the written exam is disappointing,” she said. “As a whole, candidates did not do well on this portion.” BRG did an analysis to determine if there was adverse impact to a certain racial group. The analysis determined there was no statistical difference in how the 71 males and 23 females fared.

However, there was a statistically significant difference in performance among racial groups, Marcano said: 50 percent of Hispanics passed the combined exams; 61 percent of blacks, and 85 percent of whites. BRG examined the results. It found that Hispanics performed lower than whites on the written questions regarding departmental rules. Blacks scored lower than whites on the Connecticut Law Enforcement Officers’ Field Manual, or “Red Book,” she said.

After cops took the test, they were allowed to give feedback on any questions they thought were flawed or unfair. BRG received complaints about five questions on the exam, but took a look and found those questions to be valid, according to Marcano. She said BRG cautioned that any race-based analysis should take into account the small number of people in each racial subgroup.

BRG determined that the test was a valid test based on content related to their jobs, Marcano said. The group recommended certifying the list.

Commissioners took the advice. Commissioner John Cirello pointed out that the sample size is so small that if one more Hispanic had passed the test, the pass rate would have been five points higher. The commissioners—Cirello, Daniel Del Prete, Anne Massaro, James L. Williams, and Allyn Wright—voted unanimously to approve the list with little discussion.

The list was certified for one year, after which commissioners can vote to extend its life for another year, Marcano said.

At the end of the meeting, the cop who had been awaiting his fate got a hug from Assistant Chief Blanchard. He had placed in the top 20 spots, putting him in line for likely promotion. Blanchard said she didn’t know the precise timing of the promotions. If all 20 cops came from the detective division, for example, promoting them en masse would create structural problems, so they may have to be promoted in two batches.

The New Haven 10, a group of black cops who sued the city over the 2009 sergeants exam, did not fare well in the latest round. None of the 10 plaintiffs made the top 20. The highest-scorer, Albert McFadden, ranked 27th with a score of 77.14, followed by Shafiq Abdussabur in 28th place. That means they won’t be in line for promotion this year, though spots will open up when cops move up to lieutenant positions next year. The lead plaintiff in their case, Bruce Bonner, ranked 43rd on the list. The cops argue that they should have been promoted years ago but the city discriminated against them when the Civil Service Commission certified the 2009 eligibility list for only one year, not two, because Latinos scored poorly.

Other results:

13. Joshua Armistead 82.21
14. Robert Lawlor Jr. 81.88
15. David Zannelli 81.80
16. Peter McKoy 81.54
17. Marco Francia 79.94
18. Jason Weted 79.83
19. Elisa Tuozzoli 79.64
19. Robert Maturo 79.64
20. Betsy Segui 78.85
21. Elliot Rosa 78.80
22. Brett Runlett 78.79
23. Manmeet Colon 78.14
24. Mary Helland 78.05
25. Jason Rentkowicz 77.40
26. Charlette Barham 77.37
27. Abert McFadden 77.14
28. Shafiq Abdussabur 77.14
29. Mark O’Neil 76.76
30. Ronald Ferrante 76.57

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posted by: HhE on December 11, 2012  9:36pm

Congratulations Officer Renee Forte. 

I first met her the first time I called 911 about shots fired.  She was one of the two responding officers.

posted by: Eric B. Smith on December 12, 2012  1:52pm

Congratulations to Gartner, Davis, and Jacobson!  I’m really proud of all three of you.  You’re representing Class XIII very well!  Thanks for serving New Haven.

posted by: RACISMISALIVEANDWELL on December 14, 2012  8:48pm

My name speaks for itself!

posted by: Big Troy on December 14, 2012  10:26pm

Wow unbelievable another corrupted move by the new haven police dept.  34 out of 40 whites passed what wrong with this wake city of new haven racism at its best

posted by: HhE on December 16, 2012  1:01am

RACISMISALIVEANDWELL and Big Troy, what is your evidence?  A group of police officers took a test, as it happens, most of the top scorers happened to be white.  So what?

I suppose that some racist people might have read it as “white people are smarter than others.”  I know that is racist bunk. 

I know racism is still going strong:  one need only read YouTube comments to know that.  But this?

posted by: Big Troy on December 18, 2012  8:54am

Ok Hhe two things are happening here one those are your friends that passed or two you are not a resident of New Haven. Learn the history of the the city of new haven. Learn about the police dept and its corruption, it’s police brutality against our minority. If you read the new haven independent you will read the articles on it. The new haven 10, and the brutality by the officers. So before you make comments educate yourself on the history of new haven.

posted by: HhE on December 18, 2012  9:41am

Big Troy, I am friendly with Officer Forte, but I would not call her “a friend.”  Other than a 911 call, she has never been to my house, and I have no idea where she lives.  We are not on a first name basis.  I do not have her digits. 

I do live in New Haven, and anyone reading my posts could probably figure out about where I live.

So, what is racist about this exam?