Chicago Fire Department hiring exacerbates racial divide

Below are short excerpts from the article published by the The article discusses the history of the hiring process, past lawsuits the city has been in with the payouts of nearly 78.4 million for the compensation of 6,000 African-American applicants and overtime spending costs for 2013, 2014 and next year.

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“The Chicago Fire Department has hired 300 firefighters and 162 paramedics this year to reduce runaway overtime, but the hiring spree didn’t do a thing to bridge the racial divide in a department that has long been lily-white.

Only 33 of the 462 new hires —seven percent — are African-American.  The overwhelming majority—338 or 73 percent—are white. The list also includes 81 Hispanics or 17 percent of the pool.

“Santiago replied, “Our plan has always been to go ahead and create a large, diversified pool, a base. That’s why recruitment is so important to us. In order to get to the top, we have to have large numbers. … When we get these numbers put together, they put together, they work their way to the top.”

Two years ago, Chicago borrowed the $78.4 million needed to compensate nearly 6,000 African-American would-be firefighters bypassed by the city’s discriminatory handling of a 1995 entrance exam. The borrowing compounded the cost of a settlement that was twice as high as anticipated. 



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