When the next class of Pittsburgh police officer recruits graduates July 7, it will include one Black female and five Black males. That’s six African Americans out of 29 total recruits, or 20 percent. Though it’s better than some of the all-White classes that have graduated in recent years, it’s not good enough for Janet Manuel, who, as the city’s deputy director of personnel and civil service, is tasked with increasing the number of minority applicants and hires in all city departments.
Manuel, a self-proclaimed Army brat, originally from Oklahoma, told the New Pittsburgh Courier exclusively that one thing she’s doing is taking the city’s recruiting efforts to new locations—places that have a more diverse pool of applicants to begin with, and others where jobs are less available and she can sell the city’s attributes.
“Pittsburgh’s Black population is what, 25 percent? That’s not very high,” she said. “We’re looking in Cleveland, Erie, Johnstown and even Butler County. We’re also taking part in more community day events—rather than just doing public safety recruiting—because it gives us a chance to actually ask people in the community if they’ve considered taking a position with the city. One of those is a WAMO radio event over at Stage AE (June 18) —we’ll have our fire, police and EMS people there.”
Manuel said when people first think of working for the city, they automatically think of police and fire jobs.
“That’s okay, we want them to do that—but that’s not it,” she said. “There are 19 different departments in city government, including Public Works, IT, Citiparks, Finance, Law, and where I am, Personnel—good-paying jobs with benefits.”