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Essential Pittsburgh: City of Pittsburgh & ACLU Reach Agreement To Overhaul Police Hiring Process

Deanna Garcia
90.5 WESA
Mayor Bill Peduto speaks at a news conference alongside ACLU and community leaders Thursday regarding the resolution of a federal lawsuit alleging discrimination in hiring practices. Our guest Ellen Doyle appears at far right.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the City of Pittsburgh have reached an agreement on "cutting-edge" improvements to police hiring methods, including strengthening minority hiring procedures. The settlement agreement stems from a federal class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU in August 2012 on behalf of minority applicants who scored high in Pittsburgh Police testing but were passed over for job offers. We'll speak with Ellen Doyle, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs.

Doyle says that previously, the city of Pittsburgh was being forced to diversify its ranks by hiring an African American and a woman for every four hires, as outlined in a Supreme Court order. She explains that this is no longer the case:

"The city was reporting for a number of years that [the police force] was disproportionately white in terms of the population of the city. But the difference between what happened with the prior federal lawsuit and what happened now is that the Supreme Court has seriously reduced the use of any race-conscious remedy." -Ellen Doyle

Also on the program, after rioting and chaos in Ferguson and Baltimore, how should police departments adapt? How can departments encourage minorities to join the police force?

How Police Departments Should Adapt (starts at 25:13)

From Ferguson to Baltimore, the tense nature of police/community relations has been garnering national headlines.  In a recent op-ed piece for the Post-Gazette Pitt Law Professor David Harris outlined ways police departments should adapt.

Minority Police Recruitment: Building Trust as a First Step

Many minority communities have a history of distrust and suspicion when it comes to their local police forces. So, oftentimes rebuilding trust is the first step toward encouraging minorities to join law enforcement. But how, exactly, can that be done? We’ll pose that question to Christopher Peak, staff writer for Nation Swell, who has been looking into the issue.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be found here.