CPD-based hiring practices deemed unconstitutional
CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati Police Department can no longer use certain percentage-based targets for hiring and promoting black and female officers, according to a new Federal Court ruling.
The decision written by U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott on Wednesday affects practices put in place under a 1981 consent decree. The aim was to combat discrimination against blacks and women both in hiring and promotions to the rank of sergeant .
Under the policy, at least 34% of all new hires must be black and 23% female. He also indicated that at least 25% of promotions to vacant sergeant positions must be blacks and / or women.
In his decision, Dlott wrote that the City of Cincinnati had failed to prove that hiring and promotion practices were still necessary. For this reason, the hiring targets violate the equal protection clause and are unconstitutional, she added.
“Here, by simply stating that evidence of discrimination passed by the CPD over 40 years ago justifies the use of corrective race-based classifications, the city provides no evidence that at present, race-based hiring and promotion goals continue to address past discrimination or any lingering effects that flow from it, ”said Dlott.
She added that the city admitted that efforts to diversify the police service have been “relatively successful” over the past decade and that African-American officer rates have remained stable.
Recognizing the positive impact that the race-based provisions have had on the diversity of the CPD, the city further admits that… the consent decree is used to “maintain diversity, not increase it.” “”
In response, Mayor John Cranley said the city was evaluating its next steps.
“We certainly wish that (the Department of Justice) did not take this step because the consent decree was important to our progress,” he said. “We are evaluating all options to appeal and will do so if possible,” Mayor John Cranley told the City of Cincinnati. “We will not stop defending our cause.”
The consent decree arose out of a 1980 Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit that alleged the DPC violated civil rights law and federal anti-discrimination provisions by failing to promote black people and women. .
At the time, the sworn ranks of the CPD consisted of 9.9% black officers and 3.4% female officers.
As of January 2021, 31.3% of all officers in Cincinnati are black, 23.9% are women. These groups also constitute important portions of sergeants and other high ranking positions within the department.
Challenges to staffing policies began last year when a white male police officer filed a lawsuit. That officer, Erik Kohler, alleged he was screened for promotion to a black officer who scored lower on the sergeant’s test.
The City of Cincinnati does not discriminate against women and / or minorities in the hiring, training, and promotion of these two groups. However, by continuing the consent decrees so long after they come into effect, the City of Cincinnati illegally discriminates against white men in hiring and promotion ”, the trial indicates.
In response, the DOJ agreed to consider amending parts of the decree by removing the hiring and promotion targets, saying they were unconstitutional.
Despite the progress, the City of Cincinnati and the CPD argued that the policies remained important as they sought to develop a police force that most closely reflected the community it serves.
Earlier this week, CPD announced its commitment to the 30×30 Pledge, which aims to have 30% female officers by 2030.
In his ruling, Dlott said the city said it has a compelling interest in maintaining a diverse police service for “operational needs.”
“It is essential for effective law enforcement, argues the city, that the CPD reflects the population it serves in order to ensure public safety and increase the legitimacy of the CPD in the community,” writes the decision. .
But Dlott said the “purported interest” has not stood up to scrutiny.
Cranley and Police Chief Eliot Isaac, who is black, wrote to President Joe Biden in March asking for the policies to be maintained.
“As the current police chief, I can say that my own career has benefited from the consent decree. Without it, I wouldn’t be a leader, ”Isaac wrote.
Isaac called the decision “disappointing,” but said the ministry would remain committed to serving and reflecting the community.
“I have recognized its benefits over the years. We will continue to look for other ways to create a diverse workforce that reflects the community we serve, ”he said.
Dlott said the city and the CPD should meet with the DOJ and submit any proposed changes to the decree within 90 days of its decision.