GIBSON -- The Pennsylvania State Police are firing back at the federal government the day after the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state, claiming discrimination against women who want to be troopers here.
The feds claim the physical fitness requirements for cadets at the state police academy are too tough for women.
The head of the Pennsylvania State Police said on Wednesday that the test is fair and necessary.
The U.S. Department of Justice says graduating classes from the Pennsylvania State Police Academy should have more women and the feds blame physical standards for cadets for keeping more of those women from becoming troopers.
Now, the U.S. government is suing the state police to get the physical requirements dropped.
"We will not be bullied by the Department of Justice or anyone else into changing our standards," said Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan.
These are the five standards all state police cadets must pass:
- 300-meter run in 77 seconds,
- 13 pushups,
- 14-inch vertical jump,
- 1.5 mile run in 17 minutes 48 seconds,
- agility run in 23.5 seconds
"98 percent of the men who take the test pass the physical readiness test to become a trooper. 72 percent of the women pass the test to become a PA state trooper. Those numbers prove this is not an impossible task. We're not looking for Olympic athletes," Commissioner Noonan said.
Much of Susquehanna County is covered by the state police out of their Gibson barracks. We talked to women in the county about the lawsuit and what they think of the same standards for male and female troopers.
"I don't think they should have different standards. I think a woman can do just as much as a man can," said Doreen Wood of Great Bend. "If they can't, I shouldn't say this, but they're SOL."
Some of the women said people relying on state police protection count on their physical abilities, and so do fellow troopers.
"So if there is a physical requirement that is part of the job, being able to do a certain task, then I don't know that making it easier for one person or another person makes everyone safe," said Sandy Raub of New Milford.
"If I could go in, I'd go in, but I don't think I'd pass the test because I'm a little up there in age," said Joanne Harvey of Susquehanna.
But she doesn't think the state police standards should change.
"It should be the same, everything should be equal."
The U.S. Department of Justice wants the physical readiness test to be stopped and the lawsuit asks that the state offer employment with seniority and provide back pay with interest for women who failed the test and could be troopers.