Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Indy to Feds: Don't Trust Us On Diversity

The City of Indianapolis has been under a federal consent decree since the late 1970s to hire more blacks and women in its fire and police departments. The Indianapolis Star is reporting that the City will fight a move by the U.S. Justice Department "to end 27 years of federal monitoring of hires and promotions. " The City's corporate counsel Kobi Wright told the Star: "We don't think we've arrived."

According to the report, the Justice Department asserts that "federal oversight is no longer warranted because city officials are acting in good faith and barriers to opportunity have been eliminated." Since the enactment of the initial decree, the number of black firefighters has doubled from 10% to 20% of the department, while the number of black police officers has jumped from 11.3% to 16.2%. Women now make up 5% of the firefighters and 13.5% of the police officers compared to 1% and 8.5%, respectively, prior the decree.

The position taken by the City in insisting upon continued federal oversight seems counter-intuitive. City officials, arguing on behalf of Mayor Peterson, believe that the continuation of the consent decree will help avoid lawsuits against the city for reverse discrimination. The FOP, according to the report, supports the lifting of the decree. The article quotes conservative Republican council member Scott Schneider, a member of the city's Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee as saying: "I don't think we need to be baby-sat by the federal government . . . The mayor should feel confident enough in his leadership that he can put good hiring practices in place and follow them."

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