In 2008, when the city launched recruitment for a new class of police officers, they had 1357 applicants, of which 18 percent were African-American. By the end of the recruiting process in July 2011, when 36 officers had been selected for the academy, only one Black applicant remained, equaling 3 percent of the total hires.
“In addition to further enhancing our recruitment efforts to secure an even higher volume of response from diverse applicants, we are focusing on better engaging those demographics so that we retain their interest during the process and to assist applicants to be better equipped to make it to the finish line,” said Tamiko Stanley, equal employment opportunity officer for the city.
The city recently announced a series of changes to police officer recruiting aimed at increasing diversity on the Pittsburgh police force. But, how diverse is the current police force and how has it changed over the past ten years?
According to a police workforce analysis from July 20, a little more than 16 percent of the police force is African-American. This is a decrease from 20 percent in 2006 and 22 percent in 2001.
The city will soon launch its latest recruiting effort. This is done every few years, to compile a list of applicants to be used in subsequent academy classes. From the 2008 list of 245 African-American applicants, there have been two total hires.
“The DiverseCity 365 program’s Be A Part of The Solution recruitment is about ensuring equity over equality and addressing all issues that have traditionally been barriers to diversity and inclusive practices for the position,” Stanley said.
Of the 245 Black applicants in 2008, 155 were male and 90 were female. Later six of these applicants were disqualified for not meeting the minimum requirement of 30 college credits needed to apply.
At the initial exam, 115 African-Americans did not show up, representing 16 percent on the total no shows to the written exam. Sixteen African-Americans failed the written exam, leaving 108 applicants to move on to the next step of the process.
“As you can see losing more than 50 percent of diverse candidates to no shows has pushed our attention to focus on better engagement practices,” Stanley said. “To ensure diverse applicants, are informed, confident, and equipped to proceed and not exit or eliminate themselves from the process,” Stanley said. “While we are encouraged by our achievements and the progress in diverse applicants it is our concern and the Mayor’s mandate that we aim to see our positive diversity recruitment efforts translate into actual diverse hires.”
Twelve Black applicants did not attend the oral exam, interview, and five did not pass the oral exam, representing 17 percent of exam failures. This left 91 African-American applicants eligible for the city’s list.
Of the 91 Black applicants, approximately half were processed for the 2011 class. However, of the 42 selected only 20 returned packets for processing.
Of the remaining African-Americans, five did not attend the reading and fitness test, but all of those who attended passed the reading test. Twelve failed the fitness test leaving nine to continue on.
Five more applicants were disqualified during background checks, representing nearly half of the 12 total applicants disqualified during this step. Four went on to the Chief’s Civil Service Commission and only one was selected.