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Judge: CPD can't keep hiring diversity requirements established in 1981 consent decree

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Posted at 11:50 PM, Sep 16, 2021

The Cincinnati Police Department can no longer enforce the 1981 consent decree that requires a certain percentage of its new hires and promotions be Black or female officers, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley plans to appeal in order to save it, he said in a statement.

“We certainly wish the DOJ did not take this action, as the consent decree has been important to our progress,” he wrote. “We are evaluating all options to appeal and will do so if possible. We won’t stop pressing our case.”

In her Thursday ruling, Judge Susan Dlott wrote that the consent decree — originally implemented after a 1980 lawsuit alleging discrimination against Black and female applicants — addresses a 40-year-old issue and the city of Cincinnati has failed to prove it remains necessary.

“Evidence of prior discrimination from over 40 years ago is too remote in time to provide an important governmental interest in remedying said discrimination,” Dlott wrote, adding that CPD has significantly improved the diversity of its police force in the time since the original lawsuit.

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Then, CPD’s force was 9.9% Black and 3.4% female.

The consent decree set ambitious goals in response: 34% of new police hires should be Black, 23% should be women, and one in four sergeant promotions should be Black or female officers.

By January 2021, these goals had either been or were in close reach: 31.3% of all Cincinnati officers are Black, 23.9% are women, and women and Black sergeants make up significant portions of all sergeants in the department.

Sgt. Dan Hils, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, said his union has chosen to remain neutral on the issue.

“We have members that have strong feelings on both sides,” he said, adding that he believed CPD’s workforce diversity would not be affected by its removal. "I think the end result will be the same. I think you'll see a continued diverse workforce in the city of Cincinnati. We'll just have to go about it in a legal way."

Representatives of the Sentinel Police Association, which represents Black officers in Cincinnati, said their group plans to release a statement Friday.