The Challenge of Achieving…Pittsburgh Police Force Diversity!
Recently, 34 police officers were sworn into service in Pittsburgh and, despite efforts to diversify the force and have stronger emphasis on minority representation, among the recent recruits, only one officer is black…one is Asian…and five are women. This has been a continuing challenge for Police Chief Nate Harper and his administration. The deficit of minority officers is troubling to community leaders who have joined with Chief Harper in his quest to achieve diversity.
Hiring policy continues to place emphasis on applicants who are qualified in all respects. The question arises as to the procedure that dictates how applicants are chosen…and how officers are selected.
This year there are 1,357 applicants with 298 members of minority groups. The applicants are then subjected to written and oral examinations plus physical tests. This year, 560 people survived the tests. By the time the class was winnowed down to 34, there was one African American and five women. There was also one Asian.
It should also be pointed out that the city continues to reward military veterans and requires applicants to have some college credits. Looking at the larger picture, whites represent 82% of the 930 member police force.
It’s not as though efforts are not being made to seek diversity. Representatives from the police force constantly work in many ways to find qualified minority candidates. Chief Harper also points out that the bureau works on a continuing basis with the city’s Civil Service Commission to achieve diversity. More than half the population of Pittsburgh is female, but only 10% of the bureau is made up of women.
With the many complications of police work there must also be an emphasis on psychological as well as physical fitness requirements. As the recruiters agree, the quality of the force must remain intact and should be a primary consideration.
In any case, we encourage Chief Harper and others in charge to continue their efforts to attract minority applicants who have the qualities and requirements to serve. Diversity is important to our police force and to the city as a whole!
Robert W. Dickey
President KQV Newsradio
Broadcast: August 20, 21, 22, 23, 2010
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