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#1 - Police chief: This department’s officers are, of course

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Complete Question Explanation

Strengthen. The correct answer choice is (B)

The police chief quoted in this opening stimulus discusses one exception to the general rule against officers’ drinking on the job: When officers go undercover to investigate clubs that have experienced ongoing issues with crime, (investigating such locations, the chief mentions, is extremely valuable) they are allowed to drink moderately while on assignment.

The question that follows asks for the choice that most helps to justify the police departments’ allowing an exception to the non-drinking rule in cases of undercover work in crime-ridden nightclubs; it is an interestingly worded question that basically asks for a resolution to the discrepancy between this exception and the normal rules. The correct answer choice will likely either provide advantages associated with the ability to drink moderately on such assignments, or, alternatively, disadvantages associated with enforcing the standard drinking prohibition with regard to such assignments.

Answer choice (A): This choice provides that the referenced undercover assignments are only undertaken by very experienced officers. Experience would not explain or help to justify the exception made to the drinking prohibition in such cases, however, so this choice should be eliminated from contention in response to this Strengthen question.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice. If, as this choice provides, undercover officers would tend to bring suspicion upon themselves by refraining from drinking, that helps to justify the departments policy of allowing exceptions in such cases.

Answer choice (C): An increase in undercover operations over the last few years does not explain the need for a special exception to the rule, or help to justify the policy of letting undercover officers drink moderately while on assignment in nightclubs that have had issues with crime.

Answer choice (D): The opinion of “most officers” is irrelevant to the question of the need for a special exception to the non-drinking rule for undercover work in nightclubs. Conflicting incentives aside, an opinion that allowing officers to drink should not cause “significant problems” does not strengthen the case for allowing officers to take part in an activity that is normally prohibited across the board.

Answer choice (E): Public awareness of the special exception does not help to justify the department’s policy of letting undercover officers drink in moderation while working in crime-ridden nightclubs. This choice provides neither a benefit to the special exception nor a detriment to the normal prohibition, so it cannot be the answer to this Strengthen question.
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I was frightened by Prep Test 69 because of this very first question I encountered and I wasn't able to confidently make an answer. Till now I don't know why B is the correct answer choice while D is not.

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Hi Celine,

Thanks for the question! This is a "resolve the paradox" question, meaning that the goal is to find an answer choice that explains how all the statements in the stimulus can make sense, or be true, despite some apparent conflict or contradiction.

So what we know from the stimulus is that there's a rule that officers should not drink on the job, but there's an exception while doing undercover work in nightclubs. We also know that it's "valuable" for officers to be able to do undercover work. So the information that seems to be missing is why the exception? What would be so important about drinking while undercover, so as to justify the exception?

Answer choice B explains -- police officers in this situation won't be able to maintain their cover essentially, if they don't drink.

A does not explain why drinking is allowable in this situation (being a "very experienced" officer might have something to do with drinking, but we don't know what).
C also doesn't explain anything about drinking.
D speaks to the officers' beliefs about the risks of drinking undercover, but we don't know that those beliefs are correct, so it's not a strong answer.
E would actually work against an explanation. If the public knows police drink undercover, then doing so doesn't do anything to help maintain that cover.

Hope this helps!

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Hi Beth. I got to this question a different way, but with a ton of effort and I'm sure I spent more time on it than was warranted. In retrospect, viewing this as a Resolve question, would've helped me get to the correct answer a lot faster. However, I interpreted the q. to be a Strengthen question. And then I broke it down via Premise and Conclusion, with the conclusion being : The exception to the rule is ok and officers should be able to drink in moderation while working undercover. And its support, according to the stimulus: Because doing so would be very valuable.

Could you tell me, was this an incorrect view of the stimulus? With Resolve q's, I tend *not* to go in and break down the relations between premise and conclusion. But with strengthen or weaken questions, I often do. I'm unclear with this question, even tho I got it correct, as to which type it is. Could you clarify?

Thanks in advance.
Emily Haney-Caron
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Hi Cecilia!

This question is a Resolve question. I'm not entirely sure what else you were asking, but would be happy to write more if you wouldn't mind clarifying for me!
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Is this a strengthen or resolve the paradox question?
Dave Killoran
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Hey Lusting,

Stuff like this is why I love the LSAT, because it stops to make you think even when after you see it the first time. First, this is a Strengthen question. There's no mention of a paradox, and indeed, because the stimulus actually explains why the exception exists, there's no paradox to begin with. The question stem then asks you to justify the exception, which is another way of asking you to strengthen the existence of the exception.

Ok, so now we get to the fun part: since this does kind of feel like a paradox of sorts, couldn't this be a Resolve question, and if it was, would it be wrong to approach it as such? Let's start with the second question, and the answer there is that since Strengthen and Resolve are in the same question family (second), they both are asking you to do fundamentally similar things, namely to help make the argument stronger. So, even if you read this as a Resolve question, you are still going to act in the same way, and find an answer that would help the exception be reasonable.

Next, could it in fact be a Resolve question? I've stated why it isn't above, but justify an exception is very similar to resolving a paradox. So if you read it this way, it's not some terrible error. An exception to a rule isn't really a paradox, and so this is still a Strengthen question, but the way the answers act is so similar that regardless of how you approach this one you should end up with the same answer.

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I am so confused the very first post from the admin says this is a strengthen question. Then another stuff member says it is a paradox. After the staff memeber says it is a paradox another staff member says it is strengthen?! When I did this as a practice test I thought it was a paradox question and got the correct answer. I am confused about whether it is a strengthen questions or paradox?
Malila Robinson
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Hi Janmay,
Very sorry for the confusion. This is a Strengthen question. The way it is worded makes it very easy to confuse it with a Resolve question. But if you break the question down, it is asking which answer choice best supports the exception to the rule in the stimulus. That is strengthen language.

Please let us know if you still have questions!