Judge lifts race and gender hiring quotas for Ohio Police Department
COLUMBUS, OH – A federal judge has lifted the race and gender hiring quotas imposed on the Cincinnati Police Department 40 years ago to address its lack of diversity, in line with the argument of the US Department of Justice that the changes are no longer constitutional.
The litigation before U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott was a consent decree put in place in 1981, when only 9.9% of officers in the department were black and only 3.4% were women.
Today, more than 28% of the agents in the department are black and 23% are women. But since that 1981 agreement, the United States Supreme Court has added strict control over the use of such affirmative action based on race and gender, Dlott said.
While such hiring goals can be used to address diversity issues, they can no longer help maintain a diverse workforce, the judge said.
“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, “Dlott said in Wednesday’s ruling. As a result, these goals are unconstitutional, she said. declared.
Dlott noted that Cincinnati admitted that the department’s diversification efforts have been relatively successful.
The Justice Department has asked Dlott to remove the requirements following a lawsuit filed last year by a white Cincinnati police sergeant who said he was discriminated against when a black officer lowered on the eligibility list was allowed to exceed him to become a sergeant.
This officer, Erik Kohler, was denied seniority and preferential assignments, and also lost his salary, argued his lawyer, Chris Wiest, in a complaint filed in November. Kohler challenged both the 1981 federal consent decree, which included preferences for promotion to the rank of sergeant, and a 1987 state consent decree relating to promotion to the rank of captain and lieutenant. Kohler started with the department in 1999 as a cadet.
Wiest said Friday that Dlott’s decision was unlikely to undermine the diversity of the police service, noting that several senior officers, including Chief Eliot Isaac, are people of color or women.
“Some people think we need these requirements, but I think from my client’s point of view if you want to end racial and gender discrimination, you have to stop discriminating on the basis of race and gender. “said Wiest. Similar requirements in other municipalities have already been lifted for the same reasons, he added.
The Justice Department has said it is committed to helping Cincinnati maintain the progress it has made and continue to move towards a more diverse workforce.
“However, the city’s use of gender-sensitive digital targets for African American and female applicants as a supposedly interim measure to address past discrimination must be justified by current legal standards, not by the legal standards in force in 1981, “the lawyers said. with the Civil Rights Division of the Ministry of Justice argued in June.
Mayor John Cranley, a white Democrat, and Isaac, who is black, wrote to President Joe Biden in March, saying the deal should stand.
“As the current police chief, I can say that my own career has benefited from the consent decree,” Isaac said in this March 3 letter. âWithout that, I wouldn’t be a chef.
Cranley said on Friday the city was considering appealing. “We certainly wish the DOJ did not take this step, as the consent decree was important to our progress,” Cranley said.
Although the 1981 Consent Order helped diversify the Cincinnati Police Department, the city continued to face race-related challenges over the years.
In 2001, two decades after the consent decree was issued, race riots rocked Cincinnati following the shooting death of Timothy Thomas, who was black, by a white officer.
Subsequently, Cincinnati passed an agreement between the city, a police union, an activist group, and the ACLU to facilitate changes in the department.
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS Associated Press