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Police officers in Smith County

This topic has 2 expert replies and 4 member replies

Police officers in Smith County

Post
Police officers in Smith County who receive
Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) training
spend considerable time in weapons instruction
and practice. This time spent developing
expertise in the use of guns affects the instincts
of Smith County officers, making them too
reliant on firearms. In the past year in Smith
County, in 12 of the 14 cases in which police
officers shot suspects while attempting to make
an arrest, the officer involved had received
SWAT training, although only 5 percent of the
police force as a whole in the county had
received such training.

Which of the following, if true, most strengthens
the argument above?
a) In an adjacent county, all of the cases in
which police shot suspects involved officers
with SWAT training.

b) SWAT training stresses the need for
surprise, speed, and aggression when
approaching suspects.

c) Only 15 percent of Smith County’s SWAT
training course is devoted to firearms
lessons.

d) Among officers involved in the arrest of
suspects in Smith County in the past year,
the proportion who had received SWAT
training was similar to the proportion who
had received SWAT training in the police
force as a whole.

e) Some Smith County officers without SWAT
training have not been on a firing range in
years.

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GMAT/MBA Expert

Post
If only 5% of officers received SWAT training, then IF ALL THINGS ARE EQUAL, we should expect that 5% of suspect shootings will involve officers who received SWAT training.

The fact that 12/14 (about 86%) of the shootings involved officers with SWAT training suggests that the SWAT-trained officers are more likely to shoot suspects. This is the conclusion of the argument.

However, what if all things are not equal? What if the dispatching officer only sends out SWAT-trained officers to make arrests? So, even though only 5% of the entire police force received SWAT training, 100% of the arrests are made by officers with SWAT training. If this were the case, then we'd expect that 100% of the arrestee shootings would involve officers with SWAT training.

So, the strength of the conclusion here relies on whether or not the officers sent to make arrests are representative of the entire police force (with respect to SWAT-training)

Answer choice D is the best answer, because it tells us that the officers sent to make arrests are representative of the entire police force (with respect to SWAT-training). In other words, if you look at all of the arrests made in the county, about 5% of them were made by SWAT-trained officers. So, it should have been the case that 5% of the shootings involved officers with SWAT training. Since 86% of the shootings involved officers with SWAT training, our conclusion that SWAT-trained officers are more likely to shoot suspects is strengthened.

Cheers,
Brent

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GMAT/MBA Expert

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Hi sparkles3144,

Brent's explanation is well thought-out and thoroughly explained.

Here is another way to choose the correct answer that you might find faster: D is the only one that matches the Main Point and Focus of the prompt. Each of the wrong answers are outside of the Focus and are thus incorrect.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich

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Why is B not a suitable answer?

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shantanuchandra wrote:
Why is B not a suitable answer?
The argument is focused on the results of weapons instruction and practice, saying, "This time spent developing expertise in the use of guns affects the instincts of Smith County officers, making them too reliant on firearms."

B discusses a different aspect of SWAT training, use of aggression. If the argument were that SWAT training in general is causing more shootings, then B might strengthen the argument, but the argument is that weapons training causes more shootings. So what is discussed in B is outside the scope of the argument.

So there is a great lesson to be learned here. A GMAT CR answer can be set up to trick you into seeing it as being connected to or supportive of the argument when in fact it is not really. In this case, yes training in the use of aggression can be connected with shootings, but the argument is seeking to make a connection only between weapons training and shootings. I found B tempting too, at first...

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Why wasn't A a good answer in this case?

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godolipie wrote:
Why wasn't A a good answer in this case?
To tell the truth, A has some merit as a strengthener. The fact that, in the next county, in all cases in which suspects were shot, the officers involved had SWAT training does seem to confirm that SWAT training is related to the shooting of suspects. From what I have seen of LSAT questions, I think A might be considered a strengthener on the LSAT, and I personally don't really like A as an incorrect answer choice. I wish it were a little different, somehow more clearly incorrect.

At the same time, there are two reasons why D is a better answer, and remember we are looking not just for a choice that strengthens the argument, but for the choice that most strengthens the argument.

The first reason is somewhat GMAT specific. On the GMAT, an answer that involves something going on in the next town or the next county is generally considered not very strong. There is one official question involving two different volcanoes, but those are both volcanoes I guess, and so perhaps the GMAT considers them similar, as opposed to two different counties, which could be different from each other in key ways that make data from one county inappropriate for making conclusions about another county.

The second, and best, reason for not picking A is that it is nowhere near as strong an answer as D is. The original argument leaves us with an unanswered question. Could it be that the reason that officers with SWAT training shot most suspects who were shot is that officers with SWAT training do most of the arresting in Smith County? If they do, then maybe it's not SWAT training that has resulted in these officers having shot most suspects who have been shot but, rather, that these officers do way more arresting than other officers do. This pattern could be holding in the next county as well, and so A does not help to answer the question that the argument leaves us with.

D strengthens the argument by providing an answer to that question, by indicating that SWAT trained officers are not involved in a disproportionately high number of arrests. So, since D provides clear confirmation that officers with SWAT training made only 5 percent the arrests but were involved in most of the shootings of suspects, it answers the question that the argument left us with and, thus, helps to strengthen the case that SWAT training causes officers to become too reliant on firearms.

Note, ruling out a possible alternate cause is one of the ways in which cause-and-effect arguments are strengthened in Critical Reasoning questions. So, you could easily see this pattern in a question on the test.

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