CHICAGO (CBS) – For years, the city of Chicago has vowed to make its police force look more like the population that it serves. But a media watchdog group says African American applicants continue to face discrimination.
CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports on the challenge of retrieving the data.
CBS 2 requested recent recruitment data from the Chicago Police Department and has been denied over and over. CBS 2 finally had to go around the department and request statistics from the state — which show African American representation is still low.
"The hiring practices have been flawed for a long time," said retired CPD Captain, Corwin Calhoun.
After 31 years of service, Calhoun said the recruitment process discriminates against African American applicants who may have a juvenile criminal record — but are ready to turn a page.
"They didn't have a chance just by the very geography of where they lived or the color of their skin," Calhoun said.
He was joined by other members of the media watchdog group "Media Editing Group" to call out the department and its leaders.
"To see more African American police hired. That's our point that's our purpose for being here today," said Pastor Rich Redmond.
What has always been suspicious about the Chicago Police Department's discriminatory hiring practices against Black applicants was proven to be true this summer in a local TV news stations' interview with Chicago's Deputy Inspector General.
Pastor Redmond pointed to a recent Office of Inspector General report, which found that 37% of the department's applicants from 2016 to 2018 were African American. But by the end of the hiring process, only 18% of all candidates who were invited to the police academy were African American.
He said his community demands:
"Given the revelations from this interview, the African American community at large now rightfully demands that CPD balance its police force by hiring more African-American applicants for their October and December 2021 'In-Person Exams,'" Redmond said.
While the IG's findings make note that CPD is hiring a suitable number of minorities, it also makes clear that most of the minorities hired are not of African American descent.
After unsuccessful attempts to obtain recent diversity data on CPD's ranks via the Freedom of Information Act, CBS 2 had to turn to the state for answers.
The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, which said African Americans make up just over 20% of new hires since 2020. Twenty-five percent of new hires are white and nearly 50% of new hires are Hispanic.
Of the department's current employees — African American officers make up less than 20% of the department in a city where 30% of the population is African American.
CBS 2 reached out to CPD to comment on the data supplied by the state — a spokesperson said they could not confirm those numbers and that their office "does not have that information."
"Recruiting and hiring the next generation of officers who reflect the broad cross-section of our neighborhoods in which we serve is a priority for the Chicago Police Department. We are actively recruiting and taking applications through November 19, 2021. In-person testing will take place December 2-4, 2021," CPD said in a statement.
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