Settlement sought in Pittsburgh police-hiring lawsuit
Five men who claim the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police discriminates against blacks in its hiring practices are trying to settle a federal lawsuit against the city, lawyers said on Tuesday.
Vic Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and city Solicitor Dan Regan said they're attempting to reach a resolution and asked U.S. District Judge David Cercone to stay the case.
The lawsuit filed in August claims that each step of the police bureau's hiring process disproportionately eliminates minority candidates — including blacks — and favors whites. The suit notes that since 2001, the city has hired 440 entry-level police officers, but only 17 are black.
“What we do know, at the end of the day, is that the numbers are indefensible,” Walczak said.
Regan said that the city is committed to improving the diversity of its workforce and, though it denies the complaints lodged in this case, that it is interested in talking about the issue instead of rushing to trial.
“We look at this particular litigation as an opportunity to see if there's some possible resolution to the claims raised,” he said.
The city on Tuesday asked Cercone to dismiss the case because it had valid reasons not to hire each of the five plaintiffs in the case — criminal histories, failed psychiatric exams or other reasons.
Walczak said the files the city turned over for white candidates who were hired instead show that in several cases their backgrounds appeared to be worse.
“Our folks are choir boys compared to the files of some of the officers that were hired,” he said.
The plaintiffs identified flaws in the hiring process but are still gathering evidence, Walczak said.
Richard Freeman, president of the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, said he has several friends who were hired in the 1970s and early 1980s who told him that “when they retire, there will be virtually no people of color on the police force.”
The problem isn't new to the city. In 1975, a federal judge placed Pittsburgh under a quota system that required it to hire minority and female officers.
By the early 1990s, the percentage of minorities on the police force was close to the 28 percent minority population in the city at the time and another judge removed the quotas. Since then, the city has hired few minority officers, Freeman said.
Minorities comprise about 35 percent of Pittsburgh's estimated population of 307,484.
“We need a concerted effort rooted in the philosophy that a diverse police force improves our ability to police better,” he said.
Brian Bowling is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-325-4301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Shooting of Pittsburgh cab driver spotlights risks of profession
- Group urges Port Authority of Allegheny County to fund more transit routes
- Renovation planned for blighted homes in Garfield
- Forbes Road Career and Technology Center students restore vehicle that will be donated
- Alpine touring skiing movement faces uphill climb in Western Pa.
- Pittsburgh nonprofit 412 Food Rescue takes surplus food to needy
- Carrick crime ‘blitz’ shows early signs of success
- Police investigating after cab driver shot in Hazelwood
- Newsmaker: Dr. Mark G. Trombetta
- Newsmaker: David A. Harris
- After fostering scores, Beaver County couple welcome 3 more to family