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Police and Fire Missing Mark on Minority Hiring

Tanya Koonce
Peoria Public Radio

Minority employment in the Peoria Police and Fire Departments is falling behind established goals. Three years ago, the city council set a target of 38 and 39-percent minority officers in each department respectively by the year 2025.

Only 18.3-percent of the police force currently comes from minority groups. Police Chief Loren Marion says there are a limited number of qualified minorities applying to the department. One example he says it that 32 African American male applicants this past spring and only six were recommended for hiring.

Fire Chief Ed Olehy says his department is currently behind schedule at 15.6 percent minority, referred to as the protected class. “Statistically, we will not be able to make our goal by 2025. History tells us that we are going to need to hire 89% protected class over the next seven years. We hire about nine people a year. We’d have to hire... eight of the nine would have to be protected class to make that goal.”

Only four of the last 22 hires were African-American males. The fire department has 189 line personnel. Of those, 82% currently are Caucasian, 13-and-a-half percent African-American, two percent female and one percent of the force is Asian.

Credit Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio
Peoria Public Radio

Al Hooks of the NAACP cautions the goal may never be reached. “Unless drastic change occurs, there’s no way by 2025 we’ll achieve these goals. You look at the 212 officers in the police department, to achieve the 38% goal by 2025, the current 212 would have to reduce by 41 and add minority employment by 41.”

The Peoria City Council received the status update at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night.