Police, fire recruits quizzed about sex lives in application

CINCINNATI (AP) — Police and fire recruits in Cincinnati are being asked about their sexual history as part of an attempt to evaluate character, according to records obtained by The Cincinnati Enquirer.

The police and fire application process in Cincinnati includes questions about applicants’ most unusual sex acts and how many times they’ve had sex outdoors.

“Have you participated in a sexual act in a public place?” Cincinnati police and fire applicants are asked in one questionnaire. “Location(s) and number of times. … Explain each circumstance.”

Local police union president Dan Hils told the Enquirer he supports questions that might indicate recruits’ “law-breaking exposure” but doesn’t see how questions about lawful, private matters would be relevant.

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The city said in a statement that such inquiries are a small component from a comprehensive polygraph test that is used to “gauge a respondent’s reactions and responses to difficult questions.”

No discrimination lawsuits have been filed about the questions, but they “certainly raise eyebrows,” said Mary Turocy, director of public affairs for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. Turocy told the Enquirer that some questions could be problematic depending on the context, but that it boils down to whether they are relevant to the job.

Neighboring communities in southwest Ohio also ask applicants about sexual acts and urges.

Police recruits in West Chester Township are asked whether they’ve ever been aroused by fire. Township spokeswoman Barb Wilson said it is among the questions used to “determine their character, moral standards and ethical decision-making.”

Colerain Township generally limits questions about sexual activity to illegal acts, but includes topics such as infidelity, Police Chief Mark Denney said.

“Our responsibility to the community is to learn everything about someone before handing them our badge,” Denney said.

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Delhi Township’s police recruits are asked whether they’ve ever posted or transmitted naked or sexual images of themselves. Township administrator Jack Cameron told the Enquirer he thinks questions about recruits’ sex lives are important to the screening process.

Cameron said Delhi Township’s attorney has reviewed the questions to make sure applicants’ rights are not violated.

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