Los Angeles Mayor Laments Lack of Diversity of Firefighter Recruits

Mayor Eric Garcetti acknowledged Monday that Los Angeles was continuing to have trouble diversifying its ranks of firefighters, saying he did not expect much progress with the first class of recruits on his watch, reports The Los Angeles Times.

“I haven’t seen all of the stats, but what I’ve heard initially, I’m not satisfied with,” Garcetti said. “I think we need to have greater diversity in the recruit classes.”

Later this month, Garcetti plans to welcome the city’s first class of new Fire Department recruits in years.

The department, which has been fighting court battles over racial and sexual discrimination for decades, remains a long way from reflecting the city it serves.

Half of the city’s 3,200 firefighters are white, 31% are Latino, 12% are black, and 7% are Asian. Census Bureau figures show the city’s population is 29% white, 49% Latino, 11% Asian and 10% black.

Also, just 3% of the city’s firefighters are female, a figure that hasn’t budged over the last two decades, even as other large cities have increased their share of women. In San Diego, 8% of firefighters are women; in Seattle, 9%.

Last month, Interim Fire Chief James G. Featherstone called LAFD’s recruitment efforts “embarrassing” and said it must be “a lot more aggressive” in appealing to a diverse set of applicants.

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