Federal Judge Invalidates Quota Hiring By Boston Police

Boston’s practice of hiring one minority candidate for its police department for every white hired, a practice that flowed from a 1974 consent decree, has been invalidated by U.S. District Judge Patti Saris.

Yesterday’s ruling closes a chapter on three decades of affirmative-action hiring practices at the police and fire departments, both of which had been following 1974 federal consent decrees providing that they reach roughly the same percentage of African-American and Hispanic officers on their forces as in the city’s population.

In a 30-page opinion, Saris wrote that the Police Department has met that goal of racial parity for more than a year. A similar ruling last year by a federal appeals court found that the Fire Department had achieved racial balance among its firefighters and could no longer follow similar racial quotas.

Critics of the opinion appear to believe that legally mandated proportional representation should be a permanent fixture of “civil rights” law.

But some fear that without the court order, the Police Department will revert to being a predominantly white organization that doesn’t represent the city it is supposed to protect.

”It is critical for the Police Department in the city of Boston to adequately reflect the diversity of the population,” said Nadine Cohen, a lawyer with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. ”We are concerned that without the consent decree that the city may once again have a predominantly white police force.”

Cohen, whose group represents the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, predicted that the number of minority officers will decrease if the city adopts a new hiring policy based on test scores and statutory preferences, which include additional consideration for veterans.

Remember this argument when you hear proponents of racial preference proclaim that they do not believe in quotas.

Say What? (13)

  1. Cobra November 26, 2004 at 11:35 am | | Reply

    John,

    At the bottom of the article you cite, let’s examine the Saris’ OTHER decision:

    >>>In her ruling, Saris rejected another argument raised by the plaintiffs, who had challenged the Police Department’s decision to hire a class of only women in June 2002.

    The judge found that it wasn’t discriminatory because the city has an ongoing operational need to hire female officers for certain investigations, including the handling of female suspects and prisoners and interacting with female sexual assault victims.”

    This was a case again, where white male officer candidates were not hired. This judge decided that there was an “on going operational need to hire female officers.” They make no mention of how many female officers were already on the force.

    Do you feel as STRONGLY about gender preference as you do about racial, John? Was the judge correct to have a female quota class in 2002?

    –Cobra

  2. Cobra November 26, 2004 at 2:04 pm | | Reply

    Michelle,

    There is a difference between a certain number and an entire academy class. In this case, white male police officers that particular year were “discriminated against” in the words of the same plaintiff making accusations about the race based decisions. As far as “goals being met”, there is a sticky situation there as well. It gets back to that, “proportionate representation” again.

    –Cobra

  3. John Rosenberg November 26, 2004 at 11:06 pm | | Reply

    Cobra asks:

    Do you feel as STRONGLY about gender preference as you do about racial, John? Was the judge correct to have a female quota class in 2002?

    The short answer is, No, I don’t. The longer answer is that the courts, quite reasonably if not altogether and always persuasively, have hammered out a standard that is more tolerant of distinctions based on sex/gender than of distinctions based on race (“intermediate scrutiny” vs. “strict scrutiny”). Although I think the level of scrutiny approach is rather silly, I do believe the underlying distinction between race and sex discrimination/preference makes good sense. There are cirumstances and and situations where differences between men and women deserve to be recognized, i.e., where it is reasonable to treat them differently. Pregnancy leave, for example. Or refusing to hire pregnant women (or, arguably, as has been argued, women of certain ages who might at some point want to become pregnant) to work in conditions that would be hazardous to a fetus or to future reproductive health (there are cases on this). By contrast, I don’t believe there any differences among individuals of different races that make it reasonable to treat them differently.

    If the Equal Rights Amendment has passed, then sex and race discrimination would have had to be treated the same. But it didn’t.

    As for whether it was reasonable in this case to have a quota of female police hires, I simply don’t know. The fact that it sometimes may be reasonable to allow sex/gender preferences (such as hiring guards in a womens prison, or to search women prisoners etc. brought into a city jail) doesn’t mean it always is.

  4. Michelle Dulak Thomson November 27, 2004 at 1:18 pm | | Reply

    (My comment Cobra responds to above was one that got deleted.)

    As far as “goals being met”, there is a sticky situation there as well. It gets back to that, “proportionate representation” again.

    Why, yes, it does. “Proportional representation” is what the consent decree required. It has now been achieved, and therefore there is no obligation to continue hiring Black and Hispanic officers preferentially.

    Regarding female officers, though, no one ever suggested that the force had to be 50% female just because the populace was. It’s just that there are some police jobs where having female officers available is essential, as both John and I (in the deleted comment) suggested. If there are too few of them, a hiring push seems an obvious thing to do. Keep in mind that this was the Boston PD’s initiative, and all the judge did was fail to find it illegal.

  5. Cobra November 27, 2004 at 2:03 pm | | Reply

    Michelle,

    My follow up question to you would be if you believe proportionate representation goals in the Boston PD were a good idea, why would you be against that same type of strategy in other areas of society?

    In the article, there were suggestions made that with this judgement, the Boston Police Department would return to the predominantly white recruiting strategies of the past–a past that colored the Boston PD with a racist tint. What besides blind faith in the altruism of your fellow man could insure the growing minority population in Boston that the “bad ol’ days” aren’t coming back?

    –Cobra

  6. Michelle Dulak Thomson November 27, 2004 at 8:52 pm | | Reply

    Cobra,

    My follow up question to you would be if you believe proportionate representation goals in the Boston PD were a good idea,

    Um, I said no such thing. I said that the consent decree obliged the Boston PD to work towards them, not that the consent degree was a good idea. The only thing I said about proportional representation that reflects my own views is that proportionately representing women on this or any other police force would be a very stupid idea, one which (fortunately) no one has proposed.

    [ . . . ] why would you be against that same type of strategy in other areas of society?

    Because I’m against it, period. Which doesn’t mean that I think PDs, &c. should defy court orders that they have no realistic chance of overturning. The point here is that the consent decree’s terms have ben fulfilled.

    In the article, there were suggestions made that with this judgement, the Boston Police Department would return to the predominantly white recruiting strategies of the past–a past that colored the Boston PD with a racist tint. What besides blind faith in the altruism of your fellow man could insure the growing minority population in Boston that the “bad ol’ days” aren’t coming back?

    Well, I’d start with “the growing minority population in Boston,” which is already more than 50%; and with the enormous change in racial attitudes that thirty years have seen. Isn’t that enough to start with?

  7. Cobra November 27, 2004 at 11:29 pm | | Reply

    Michelle writes:

    >>>Well, I’d start with “the growing minority population in Boston,” which is already more than 50%; and with the enormous change in racial attitudes that thirty years have seen. Isn’t that enough to start with?”

    I think that all depends on which end of the racial attitude you’re on. The giving end, or the receiving.

    >>>Um, I said no such thing. I said that the consent decree obliged the Boston PD to work towards them, not that the consent degree was a good idea. The only thing I said about proportional representation that reflects my own views is that proportionately representing women on this or any other police force would be a very stupid idea, one which (fortunately) no one has proposed.”

    Given the amount of domestic disturbance, sexual assault, and child welfare calls that a modern urban police precinct must respond to on a daily basis, I would think that you would want MORE female officers on the job than less. Not every situation requires bench pressing, physical restraint or intimidation. If a woman can pass the physical tests required, why should a man get consideration first?

    –Cobra

  8. Michelle Dulak Thomson November 29, 2004 at 3:09 pm | | Reply

    Oh my. Sorry, Cobra; I ought to have seen your response sooner. It’s been a busy weekend.

    I think that all depends on which end of the racial attitude you’re on. The giving end, or the receiving.

    Are you seriously arguing that white racism in Boston is as strong as it was thirty years ago? I doubt that very much.

    Given the amount of domestic disturbance, sexual assault, and child welfare calls that a modern urban police precinct must respond to on a daily basis, I would think that you would want MORE female officers on the job than less. Not every situation requires bench pressing, physical restraint or intimidation. If a woman can pass the physical tests required, why should a man get consideration first?

    Good Lord, Cobra, you evidently fancy yourself a mind reader, but you haven’t the least gift for it. John and I both said earlier in this thread that there is a specific need for female officers in police work, including exactly the needs you single out. Why that should require a 50%-female force I have no idea; and you will have to point out to me the place where I said men should get preference over women in hiring, because Lord knows I can’t find it.

    I can only assume that you are thinking that men and women able to pass the physical tests apply for police work in equal numbers, and that therefore if a police force is majority-male, women are being discriminated against. That’s such rot that I don’t know where to start.

  9. Cobra November 30, 2004 at 3:32 pm | | Reply

    Michelle writes:

    >>>Are you seriously arguing that white racism in Boston is as strong as it was thirty years ago? I doubt that very much.”

    Exactly what has changed that would make you believe Boston is better? How many minorities who live there have you spoken with about racism? The ones I’ve talked to tell me it’s business as usual.

    >>>Good Lord, Cobra, you evidently fancy yourself a mind reader, but you haven’t the least gift for it. John and I both said earlier in this thread that there is a specific need for female officers in police work, including exactly the needs you single out. Why that should require a 50%-female force I have no idea; and you will have to point out to me the place where I said men should get preference over women in hiring, because Lord knows I can’t find it.”

    There’s a lot of meat in that sandwich, so I’ll try to slice through it. Since there are many positions in a police department, please tell me which jobs are only suited for men, and how much of a percentage of the department that role takes up.

    As far as confrontations are concerned, being a large black man, I’d much rather be pulled over by a female officer than a testocerone-addled gym- rat, millitary-flashback type: the ones who USUALLY profile and pull me over. I can imagine far less “accidental” shootings, beatings, and police brutality.

    But that’s just my opinion.

    –Cobra

  10. Michelle Dulak Thomson November 30, 2004 at 7:01 pm | | Reply

    Cobra,

    Re Boston, I can’t provide you with the quotes you want, because I don’t know anyone — of any race — now living there. But even if I could provide ten “minorities” in Boston who said that there was much less racism in the city than there was thirty years ago, you’d only tell me (quite correctly) that anecdotes aren’t evidence.

    The idea that a full generation after the busing riots, Boston (one of the Bluer of the Blue cities) is exactly as racist as it ever was still strikes me as flat-out incredible. But believe it if you like.

    This, however . . .

    As far as confrontations are concerned, being a large black man, I’d much rather be pulled over by a female officer than a testocerone-addled gym- rat, millitary-flashback type: the ones who USUALLY profile and pull me over. I can imagine far less “accidental” shootings, beatings, and police brutality. But that’s just my opinion.

    . . . deserves a word. Cobra, you say you are a “large black man.” Imagine yourself a small woman being, say, beaten up by a “large man.” Imagine yourself set upon by a pack of thugs. Imagine yourself held up at gunpoint. Imagine yourself confronting someone who broke into your house. There are situations in which a physically-intimidating police officer is a good thing. In fact, there are situations in which physical bulk and strength probably save lives; I can easily imagine circumstances in which a female officer might have to use a gun, while one of those testosterone-crammed apes you despise might not.

    Just bear in mind that cops don’t exist solely in order to pull you over and hassle you. There are real creeps out there, and real victims.

  11. yomama@myhouse.com February 8, 2005 at 10:23 pm | | Reply

    Unless you’re black and have had the wonderful opportunity of being profiled by a white cop, because you’re black, you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.

  12. steve October 11, 2007 at 6:12 pm | | Reply

    Equality of results will never happen in ths world no matter how easy you make this test. White men are not the enemy. The dumbing down of America and the lowering of standards at all levels of society is a real danger.

  13. William Dwyer March 26, 2014 at 12:00 pm | | Reply

    America has lost its truth. In such an important position the hiring of police officers the goal is not to hire the very best but to satisy the agenda of the Left. The criteria for qualifications is clearly defined and everybody has an equal chance. The study material and requirements for physical and psychological standards are clearly defined in applying. But we don’t follow our own rules. Compromising merit is clearly not in the best interest of America. Lost in Affirmative Action is all the white males who were jumped over to satisfy quotas but there rights are considered collateral damage. It is just plain wrong.

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