Office of Mayor William Peduto
City of Pittsburgh and American Civil Liberties Union Reach Agreement on Police Hiring Procedures

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 7, 2015) Seeking to increase diversity within the ranks of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, the City of Pittsburgh signed a legal agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union today to secure cutting-edge improvements to police hiring methods.

Through the agreement city officials and the ACLU will work with two police hiring experts over the next three years to further implement long-term changes to police hiring procedures to support qualified minority hiring, and to eliminate practices that could unfairly impact minority applicants.

“We need a police force that looks like Pittsburgh does, and today the City and its civil rights community are coming together to find the best and most equitable ways to build that,” Mayor William Peduto said. “It has required a hard look in the mirror, and will take time and patience to achieve, but in the end we will have a qualified, competent and diverse police force that our neighborhoods and officers are even more proud of.”

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. The suit alleged the city’s hiring processes for police candidates regularly and adversely impacted African-American applicants.

In today’s settlement the City denies the lawsuit’s allegations of discriminatory hiring practices but recognizes that the hiring practices need to be updated and improved.

While mediating the lawsuit through 2013 and 2014, the City and the ACLU jointly retained a  police hiring expert, industrial psychologist Dr. Leaetta Hough, to review Pittsburgh Bureau of Police hiring procedures and recommend possible improvements. Dr. Hough recommended several changes to the police selection process, including changes to official job requirements and application materials, and more objective methods of oral interviews and final job decisions by police leaders. Overall Dr. Hough recommended that every step of the hiring process, and the ongoing changes to it, be regularly scrutinized for adverse impacts on African-American candidates.

Under today’s agreement the Mayor will issue an Executive Order to appoint a special committee of officials from the city Police, Personnel, Law, Office of Municipal Investigations departments, as well as the ACLU, to study and implement the expert recommendations by prescribed deadlines of three to 24 months.

An advisory committee of members with police and community backgrounds will also be named, and led by the city’s Solicitor Lourdes Sanchez Ridge.

In the settlement the City agreed to pay $985,000 total to eligible African-American police applicants who were not issued job offers from 2008-2014, as determined by the Court. The city is also paying a maximum of $600,000 in attorney’s fees.

In the settlement, both parties -- the City and the ACLU -- write they “entered into this agreement in an effort to accomplish several important goals, including increasing diversity in the police department, enhancing relationships within Pittsburgh’s diverse population, and dedicating financial resources to innovation and implementation of state of the art selection devices and processes while avoiding costly and protracted litigation.”

A draft copy of the settlement is here.

Currently the police bureau is 85% White, 13% African-American, 1% Asian and 1% Hispanic. According to the 2010 U.S. Census the City was 66% White, 26% African-American, 4.4% Asian and 2.3% Hispanic.

The next application deadline for police recruits is May 11, 2015, and the City has been working for months to implement changes to increase diversity in the upcoming applicant pool. They included establishing the website http://www.joinpghpolice.com/; creating the candidate/police officer mentor program; use of social media; emailing updates to applicants; hosting recruitment events and information sessions within City neighborhoods; partnering with various internal and external groups to increase recruitment outreach; and offering free testing preparation through the Community College of Allegheny County.

The City put $250,000 into its budget this year for hiring experts and revamping the police hiring process.

The settlement agreement is subject to Pittsburgh City Council and federal Court approval.

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