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Gainer Allows 2nd Round Of Testing

In a letter he personally drafted to the entire Capitol Police force, Chief Terrance Gainer addressed questions about the fairness of a recent promotions test and announced that a handful officers may take the exam after everyone else.

The controversy began in early May after three black officers arrived late and were turned away from the test while a married couple who are both white were granted advanced permission to take the test after it was administered to 124 other officers seeking promotions to sergeant or lieutenant.

The black officers, Rubard Gillis, Troy Purnell and Claudette Squires, accused the department of bias and alleged that Kim Bolinger, who had a baby just days before the test, was given special treatment because she works in Gainer’s office. Andrew Bolinger was told to take the test at the same time as his wife to prevent the two from discussing it.

In last week’s four-page letter, Gainer explained that those who missed the test — for whatever reason — would be allowed to take a comparable but different exam. Additionally, officers whose military units were activated will also be allowed to take the second administered test. He will also hold two meetings with officers to answer questions.

Gainer wrote that he trusted “this full, open explanation will assuage the fears of favoritism, racism, gender bias or cold heartened compliance. I pray this decision is ecumenical in acceptance and equitable in application. We will do better during the next promotional cycle, late summer 2004.”

Although Gainer called it an “honest attempt to accommodate a medical condition,” he clearly disagreed with the decision his subordinates made to allow two officers to take the same test at a later date, when, in the past, the department has had a zero-tolerance policy for those who couldn’t take it at the assigned time.

He wrote that the decision was based, in part, on a legal opinion concerning the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act and an attempt to relieve problems of past exams when the department was less empathetic to family issues, such as the death of an officer’s father and a pregnancy. Nonetheless, upon learning that two officers had been offered a chance to take an identical test later, he stopped it.

In a statement, the Black Capitol Police Officers Association said it sees this “as a terrible situation not of Chief Gainer’s making. The Chief was really left with no viable options other than the decision he made.”

The black officers’ attorney, who has a pending class action lawsuit against the Capitol Police Board, accused Gainer’s subordinates of trying to undermine his “commendable efforts to run a more equitable Department.” Joseph Gebhardt wrote that although his clients didn’t agree with the decision and would have preferred no additional testing for anyone, “The Black Officers bringing the class action will not undercut Chief Gainer at this critical time.”

In terms of ranking the later test takers, Gainer said their scores “will neither bump anyone nor cause anyone not to be promoted.” This will be accomplished “over promot[ing] by one.”

The scores of those candidates who took the test later will be paired with someone who took the test the first time and got the same score.

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