Is 68 Too Old To Be A Police Officer?

William Ray Fisher wanted to be a patrol officer when he was 65 Are there certain professions that should have an age limit? Even though he was 65 years old, William Ray Fisher (pictured left) felt that he was fit enough to work as a patrol officer. So in 2009, he submitted an application to the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Police Department. When he was rejected by WSPD, Fisher was convinced that it was due to his age.

Acting as his own legal counsel, Fisher, now 68, filed a lawsuit accusing the WSPD of age discrimination in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. Fisher is suing for back wages and $200,000 for emotional pain and suffering, reports the Winston-Salem Journal.

In the lawsuit -- which is handwritten and four pages long -- Fisher also names members of the WSPD, including Sgt. Tony Perkins. In his complaint, Fisher claims that Perkins "constantly and continuously belittled" his experience and "blocked his employment with the police department by moving younger and less qualified applicants" ahead of him. Fisher's case rests largely on his belief that the other applicants were less qualified. "More than half of the accepted applicants had no police experience at all," Fisher wrote in his complaint. "This discrimination against me was deliberate and intentional ... due to my age."

Fisher also contends that Scott Cunningham, chief of the WSPD, told him via e-mail that he "had hurt [his] chances of being hired by threatening to sue." Fisher also argues that the department doesn't adequately train its officers to be sensitive to age discrimination.

Fisher says that he has two decades' experience with law enforcement, having worked for both the patrol division and SWAT team of the Butler County, Ohio, Sheriff's Office, among other police agencies. In total, Fisher says, he has logged 20,000 hours of patrol duty. Fisher also says that he is physically fit and has practiced tae kwon do and karate throughout his life. Currently a technician at a mental health hospital, Fisher says that he remains active. "It can get physical, and I have to maintain order."

The Winston Salem Police Department did not respond to requests for comment. But in a previous statement, City Attorney Angela Carmon and Assistant City Attorney Anthony Baker said the lawsuit could set a dangerous precedent, putting the WSPD in "the position of having to accept any applicant over 40 or face the cost of having to defend, at least until summary judgment, a federal age discrimination lawsuit."

More: Nine Signs of Age Discrimination

Before filing his complaint, Fisher first turned to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which told him that there was "reasonable cause" to believe there was a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. However Fisher's lawsuit turns out, his story is certainly emblematic of the times. CNNMoney says that all workers over the age of 50 are simply the "new unemployables" in this country. Indeed, workers in their 50s are about 20 percent less likely than workers aged 25 to 34 to become re-employed, according to an Urban Institute study published last year.


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mrtaxattorney

He should just shut up

July 25 2013 at 11:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Charlie

Unless he had a current NC State police officer certificate he could not be hired as a lateral transfer officer. He would have to start as a new recruit and go through at least the minimum PBIC course and pass the state test to become certified. GTIC teaches the basic PBIC course in Jamestown. I know my City Greensboro requires more training the state minimum and I expect WS requirers the same. Here in Greensboro an intense physical test called POPAT with a minimum time is required along with a background investigation before being hired as a police recruit. Our PBIC course is 26 weeks long and you must pass all parts. You must also be able to complete the POPAT test in no more than I believe 7 minutes. You must meet the time on your third test or wash out. If you are injured during the training and cannot complete some of the required training you are dropped and must reapply for the next class.
After completing the PBIC course and passing the state exams you are sworn in and become a police trainee and will be assigned to a training officer until he signs off on your abilities and understanding of the job. Only then will you become a full police officer working alone. The City expends a good deal of money in the training and equipment for one to become a police officer. I don't care how good of shape he thinks he is in I don't think he could cut the requirements. And at the age or 65 the city could not expect to get a good return for the investment.

July 25 2013 at 9:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
klassikars

I drove into a small town the other day, and at the crossroads, sat a city patrol car. As I needed directions to a local spot, I pulled up and to ask the patrolman, who looked head down, as if he were reading something...He was napping, further, this guy had to have been in his eighties!!! Said he was the town policeman, the only one.

July 25 2013 at 10:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to klassikars's comment
hynotman

Was the name of this town crossroads HOOTERVILLE JUNCTION?

August 08 2013 at 11:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Arnie Jenks

He is most likely more fit than a lot of overweight cops that are on the job. Some are so overweight, they would have a heart attack if they had to run a block. And they are called our "finest", how pathetic.

July 25 2013 at 8:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bert

I want to be a cop because I was picked on in high school and they will respect me if I am a cop

April 15 2013 at 8:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bert

you do not need to be young to eat donuts at the donuts shop give him a police car with radar and let him make some money so you can buy more donuts or better yet McDonald's gives free big macs to the police just come in uniform and you can pig out

April 15 2013 at 8:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Philip

I'm 66, served 30 years in a variety of law enforcemnet jobs, patrol, detective and juvenile corrections and although I don't believe in age disrimination, 68 years old just may be too old to be a patrol officer. Inside job, clerical, desk officer okay, patrol no way.

April 13 2013 at 11:39 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mike

if these 90 pound women can do it, and I don't think that they are capable of the physical requirements, then why not this guy who has already proved himself.....just shows that this country is disgustingly ignorant with its political correctness. giving the job to people that shouldn't have it (but because liberal groups and their lawyers) they give it to them, and put everyone else in danger.....this guy proved he could do it by qualifying for swat...sue their ass off my friend...then sue all the liberal groups that sue everyone else !

April 13 2013 at 5:28 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mike's comment
Charlie

I would just love to see you compete against one of our smaller female police recruits. All of our police recruits must pass the same physical test. They know they are going to have more fights that the big guys because idiots like you think they are a pushover.

July 25 2013 at 9:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
filmnd

If he can pass the tests, why not. I rather have an older experienced cop who will probabluy use more common sense than the young guys. In fact, most departments start hiring at age 21, which I think is to young- not mature enough.

April 12 2013 at 11:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to filmnd's comment
accsport

There is no such thing as common sense because of sense were common everybody would have it.

April 13 2013 at 3:20 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
buglebob

A cpl yrs ago a fellow biker with many yrs on the Cinncy PD now living in Brandon, Fl about this same age (mid 60's) wanted to join the Hillsborough Cty SO. He had to go through the Academy again.

The Sheriff not only accepted his app but encouraged and supported his tough days ahead through the academy until he once again became an on duty LEO.

His age was not considered a liability.

April 12 2013 at 10:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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