The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) says the city of Dayton’s hiring practices have systematically discriminated against black applicants for police and firefighter jobs.
The city currently requires police officer candidates to pass a written exam. Firefighting candidates must have EMT-Basic and Firefighter I and II certifications before they can be hired.
The DOJ has ordered Dayton to abandon those requirements or face a lawsuit. The Justice Department has also asked the city to give retroactive seniority and back pay to blacks who were harmed by the requirements.
Only 33 of Dayton’s 367 police officers and six of its 234 firefighters are black, compared to 37% of the city’s civilian workforce.
City Commissioner Dean Lovelace said the city has been looking for years for ways to encourage minorities to join the police and firefighter departments. “This has been a concern in the community for a long time,” he told the Dayton Daily News. If the lawsuit would help the city diversify its safety forces, Lovelace said he would welcome it.
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