A 7-year-old court agreement to increase minority hiring in the Annapolis Police Department will be allowed to expire at the end of the year, black leaders said yesterday.
Detective George Kelley, head of the Black Officers Association, and Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, said they will not seek another extension of the consent decree.The agreement was the result of a 1984 lawsuit by the association that charged the department with discrimination.
The City Council has extended the decree four times.
"We have been successful in both the recruitment and promotion of African-Americans and women on the Annapolis Police Department," Snowden said. "The success that we achieved is largely due to the courageous efforts of the men and women who make up the Black Officers Association."
Oct. 22 will mark Police Chief Harold Robbins' first year in office, but Kelley and Snowden focused their praise on the black community and Deputy Chief Joseph S. Johnson.
Johnson was hired earlier this year by Robbins and Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins, fulfilling a promise Hopkins made to hire a black deputy chief.
"Deputy Chief Johnson has brought credibility and trust to the department," Kelley said.
Snowden said that although the department is making progress, he cautioned the black community to remain active. Residents have turned out in support of black officers and called for the ouster of former Police Chief John C. Schmitt, who retired after agreeing to a $75,000 settlement last year.
"Unless the community remains vigilant, the clock can be turned back," Snowden said.
Kelley and Snowden said the racial tensions that once divided the department are a thing of the past.
Before becoming a council member, Snowden worked with the BOA and Annapolis attorney Alan Legum to bring the discrimination suit against the department.
At the time the decree was issued, 11 percent of the department's officers were black and 7 percent were women. About one-third of city residents are black.
"At one point in 1984, every black officer had filed complaints against the city with the Maryland Human Relations Commission and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission," Snowden said.
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.
The department has come close to meeting those goals recently by hiring two black officers.
Of 112 officers in the department, 26 -- or 23.2 percent -- are black. Thirteen officers, or 11.6 percent, arewomen. Four of the officers are black women and are counted twice. The department also has three Hispanic officers and one American Indian.
The department has nine vacancies. Snowden asked Hopkins to hire black and women state troopers who might be laid off because of thestate's budget crisis. Anne Arundel County has already announced plans to hire 12 of the 83 troopers who would be laid off under a plan proposed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer.
The department has met other requirements of the decree in the last year. A police minority community relations board was formed and the department now has a validated entrance exam.
"There is still progress to be made, but we'reconfident the progress can continue," Kelley said.