Police detective allowed to finish test months later

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 10, 2000

The Vicksburg police officer who threatened legal action after a promotional exam contained more questions than he expected has been allowed to finish the test.

Detective Jimmy Sweet aired his grievance about the sergeant’s exam at a Civil Service meeting July 12.

Monday, he was allowed to answer the 25 questions he refused to answer the first time, on June 13, because, he said, he’d seen a notice saying the exam would contain 100 questions, not 125.

“That’s what I wanted,” Sweet said Wednesday of being allowed to finish the test. His score will not be available to his employer until next week.

There was some grumbling among other officers that Sweet got to answer the same test questions two months after first having the opportunity to see them, but no one would comment publicly.

Since he had initially answered only 100, the remaining 25 were scored as incorrect, leading to his appearance before the Civil Service Commission on July 12.

At that meeting, commission chairman James Rucker said he told the 29 people taking the test that there were 125 questions.

“I’d say Mr. Sweet messed up himself. It was explained twice before the test that there were 125 questions,” Rucker said that day. He said that the other 28 people taking the exam answered all the questions.

“When it came time for the test I wasn’t listening because I thought I already knew how many questions were on the test,” Sweet said at the July meeting.

Rucker said Wednesday the commission voted to allow Sweet to finish his test in a special call meeting on Aug. 2. It was a unanimous vote, he said.

“We considered the situation along with the legal department and let him do it,” Rucker said. “We wanted to get this over with.”

Sweet said Wednesday he is pleased with the outcome.

“All I wanted from the beginning was the opportunity to finish the test,” he said.

As for the officers disappointed that Sweet was allowed to finish the test after already seeing the questions, Rucker said that was not an issue in his mind. “If he quit at 100 then he never saw the other 25 questions anyway,” Rucker said.

He said the issue with Sweet was holding up the promotional process.

“We needed to get this out of the way, so we could move on,” Rucker said.

The commission, made up of three members appointed by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, is a review panel charged with keeping politics out of employment and promotions at the city’s police and fire departments.

It prepares, approves and administers study guides and written tests that are part of the city’s promotional process. Under changes put in place by the present city administration, tests alone are not the only criteria for promotion. Fire and police chiefs may also rely on interviews, personnel file information and commendations.