Sunday, April 15, 2012
Chicago City Council’s Black Caucus wants to delay Fire Department exam & to have questions lowered to 3rd grade level to boost diversity
Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), chairman of the Black Caucus, said it makes no sense for the mayor to embrace and encourage 111 middle-aged black firefighter-trainees who finally got the chance to pursue their dream thanks to a court order without addressing the lack of diversity among Fire Department brass.
The problem will only be perpetuated if Emanuel insists on proceeding with the April 21 battalion chief’s exam, Brookins said.
The Fire Department currently has 14 African-American captains, three of whom will be retiring in November. That leaves 11 who have signed up to take the exam, the alderman said.
If the test is put off until February or March, an expected wave of retirements could pave the way for as many as dozen more African Americans to be promoted to captain. That would dramatically increase the pool of African-Americans eligible to take the battalion chief’s exam, Brookins said.
“We are concerned about the potential leadership of the Fire Department in the future. By not having more African-Americans taking the exam, we will retard the ability of people to move up for another decade,” the alderman said, noting that the battalion chief’s exam is given every six to eight years.
“It’s well-documented that the number of African-Americans in the Fire and Police Departments is a paltry number which in no way reflects the racial make-up of Chicago. It’s time to turn the page on that chapter.”
Emanuel’s office did not rule out the possibility of postponing the exam.
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