Columbus (OH) Mayor Michael B. Coleman demanded changes in improving diversity hiring and a report on solutions by this month, reports The Columbus Dispatch.
"Our police and fire divisions are outstanding, but ... (diversity) is a critical component to the success of Columbus, and I expect both divisions to improve under your leadership," Coleman stated in a letter sent to the director of the city's Department of Public Safety.
The city's Civil Service Commission is revisiting the issue, as it does every eight years, and is conducting a top-down review of the hiring process. That could lead to changes in how often the city conducts the eligibility tests, changes in standards for a recruit's background, and more recruiting of minorities and women.
Getting more minorities and women into police and fire departments is not a problem unique to Columbus. Cities such as Akron, Toledo and Dayton are making significant changes to attract those groups.
But here, minorities and women make up about 15 percent of the city's 1,560 firefighters. On the police force, about 20 percent of the 1,920 sworn officers are women or minorities.
Coleman is troubled because Columbus' most recent police- and fire-recruit classes don't even keep pace with those numbers.
Although historical and cultural issues are a factor in the number of minorities or women who apply for police and fire jobs, city officials believe the city's hiring process might be part of the problem.
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