Police Expect To Meet Minority Goals Soon

February 13, 1991|By Paul Shread | Paul Shread,Staff writer

In six years, the Annapolis Police Department hasn't met the terms of a 1984 court agreement to increase minority hiring, but new Police Chief Harold Robbins says he may be able to do it soon.

"With a concerted effort, it shouldn't take much longer," Robbins said after presenting a report to the City Council in closed session Monday night.

Robbins said he could meet the decree's hiring goals by July if the council approves the hiring of additional officers and if officerswho become eligible for retirement under a new pension plan choose that option.

The court decree also calls for at least one black officer in each unit of the department. Robbins said a few units, including the canine unit and the city's police boat, still need black officers.

The department has met some of the requirements of the decree in the last year. A police minority community relations board was formed. And Robbins said the department now has a validated entrance exam.

The department also has more training for officers. Anne Arundel Community College President Thomas Florestano is providing a course in police administration for 19 Annapolis officers. In exchange for the free course, Police Capt. John Wright is teaching a course in criminal law to college students.

The 6-year-old order followed a lawsuit by the Black Officers Association charging discrimination in the department. The council has extended the consent decree four times, most recently last November. The agreement also calls for improvedrelations between the department and the black community, which makes up 35 percent of the city's population.

At the time of the decree, 11 percent of the department's officers were black and 7 percent were women.

Shortly after the decree was issued, the City Council adopted hiring goals calling for 25 percent of the department's officers to be black and 16 percent to be women.

Of 112 officers in the department, 24 -- or 21.4 percent -- are black. Thirteen officers, or11.6 percent, are women. Four of the officers are black women and are counted twice.

Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, said he hopesthe council doesn't have to extend the consent decree a fifth time. He said he would support letting the decree expire if the hiring goals were met and if the city hires a black deputy police chief.

Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins proposed creating the position a year ago. He said yesterday he still supports the position, but said the city may notbe able to afford it this year.

"I would very much like to have adeputy chief, but we're having extreme revenue problems and it's tough to know how much money we're going to have," Hopkins said.

Hopkins said the city needs to hire seven paramedics for Eastport, which has no ambulance. The trustees of the Eastport volunteer fire department have offered to buy the city a $100,000 ambulance if the city staffs it.

Alderman Theresa DeGraff, R-Ward 7, chairman of the publicsafety committee, said she thinks the money for a deputy chief wouldbe better spent on training for all officers.

In other action Monday night, the City Council referred five bills to the rules committee for review before the council votes on them.

Two of the bills, proposed by Hopkins, call for a curfew for minors and drug-testing for city public safety and transportation employees. Snowden proposed legislation that would allow candidates to distribute stickers to makeit easier for voters to cast write-in ballots.

Another Snowden proposal would let the economic matters committee oversee cable television companies. However, Federal Communication Commission rules prohibit municipalities from regulating rates cable companies charge subscribers, so the committee could do little under the bill, said AldermanEllen O. Moyer, D-Ward 8, chairman of the committee.

Under legislation proposed by Alderman Samuel Gilmer, D-Ward 3, if the mayor was unable to appoint an acting mayor, the senior council member of the same party as the mayor automatically would become the acting mayor.

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