It took Mayor Rudy Giuliani a full three weeks after the killing of Amadou Diallo to propose any reforms of the New York Police Department. But Giuliani’s major new proposal, an “army-style” initiative to recruit minorities for a department that is 67.4 percent white in a city that’s 56.6 percent minorities, will have to repair damage that’s been done during the mayor’s own tenure. According to hiring data and a recent city audit, affirmative action efforts have suffered a stunning setback since Giuliani took office.
Indeed, under Giuliani, the percentage of new hires who are black has shrunk, while the percentage of new white hires has soared, according to data obtained by the Voice from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. During the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 1993— David Dinkins’s last year as mayor— blacks made up 55 percent of new hires. But during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1997, blacks accounted for a mere 20.3 percent. The percentage of new white hires more than doubled from fiscal year 1993 to fiscal year 1997, rising from 24.6 percent to 54.4 percent.
In Monday’s New York Times, a page A1 story on the NYPD’s lack of diversity provided data that suggested this hiring pattern may even have gotten worse since 1997, the last year for which comprehensive figures were available from the city. According to the Times, “of the 4706 officers who passed the entrance exam and entered the Police Academy in four classes since April 1997, 65 percent were white, 11 percent were black and 20 percent were Hispanic.”
In addition to these dismal hiring figures, the Voice has obtained a city-mandated audit report of the NYPD that sharply criticizes the department’s equal-employment efforts during Giuliani’s tenure. The 1997 audit was carried out by the Equal Employment Practices Commission (EEPC), a quasi-independent agency charged by the city charter with monitoring municipal affirmative action programs. While the audit, which began in May 1995, was only supposed to review hires from July 1992 to December 1994, the inquiry took so long that it ended up detailing shortcomings in the department right up to the time it was completed in February 1997.
The audit report cited the department for repeatedly failing to comply with the city’s official affirmative action guidelines, and recommended 17 separate corrective actions.
The findings included:
The department also made it mandatory for police officers to have at least five years of experience prior to being eligible for promotion to sergeant. Although, as the audit noted, the NYPD has conducted “no formal studies on this issue,” the department insisted that sergeants would be more effective and mature if they met the five-year standard. The EEPC said the NYPD “rejects the argument put forward by minority fraternal organizations that this new requirement will severely retard the advancement of minority Police Officers into the higher ranks.” They further urged the department to conduct an adverse-impact study on this charge.
The EEPC disclosed that their audit was “fraught with difficulties and delays.” According to the agency, department officials “claimed the EEPC requests were burdensome and unnecessary and resisted providing the responses.” But according to EEPC executive director Abraham May Jr., “If any agency being audited wanted to cooperate, an audit would take anywhere from 18 to 20 weeks.” Despite attempts by the EEPC staff to accommodate the police department, the report explains that the “Police Department did not submit some critical data . . . until December 3, 1996— nineteen months after the start of the audit.”
In April 1997, Police Commissioner Howard Safir responded to the findings with a letter to the EEPC in which he agreed to include the department’s EEO deputy commissioner “in all executive level staff meetings.” He also agreed to “utilize minority-oriented publications as mandated by the City’s EEOP, when advertising job vacancies,” and to “conduct documented adverse-impact studies on all devices used to select Department employees.” The Voice tried to determine if more actions have been taken since the audit, but the commissioner’s office did not return repeated calls and faxes.
The EEPC audit was concluded before the Giuliani administration cut funding for an innovative recruitment program in its 1998 budget. The five-year-old Cadet Program at City University’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which encouraged CUNY students to join the NYPD by helping to pay their tuition, successfully placed more than 200 graduates into the Police Academy. Sixty-five percent of them were minorities, says James Curran, John Jay’s dean of special programs. Curran added that the school has since “lobbied the city council and mayor, but hadn’t been able to get funds back for the program.”
Nowhere in the mayor’s recent recruitment announcement did he make reference to the fate of the John Jay program, the city hiring data, or the EEPC audit. Giuliani and Safir’s record on affirmative action is one of “clear failure,” says Samuel Walker, a criminal justice professor at the University of Nebraska. Walker, whose widely cited 1992 report on police employment policies ranked New York dead last among major U.S. cities for hiring blacks, adds, “I don’t understand the lack of progress [in New York].”
Giuliani says the city will “spend a lot more dollars, more resources” and will mount a 10-to-15-million-dollar ad campaign. But if recruitment ads feature Giuliani’s face, will they encourage or discourage minority applicants? Given his record, will those ads do more to help the mayor’s unofficial Senate campaign than to change the complexion of the NYPD?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 9, 1999