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Houston NAACP: Warner Robins Police Need More Minorities

9:57 AM, Apr 6, 2010   |    comments
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Houston County's NAACP president told city council Monday night that the Warner Robins Police Department needs to hire more minorities.

Larry Holmes singled out the police department, but some city leaders say it's an issue in every department.

NAACP President for Houston County Larry Holmes did his homework before coming to council. He brought a stack of statistics comparing the number of minorities, particularly blacks, in the Warner Robins Police Department to other one's in Central Georgia.

Holmes said, "All the other police department's percentage was a lot higher than Warner Robins."

Holmes' numbers showed that blacks make up five percent of the city's police force. He says it be should closer to 32 percent, or equal to the city's black population.

He said, "I see a problem with that and something needs to be done about it."

But the police department is not the only department below Holmes' 32-percent threshold.

A survey taken by Mayor Chuck Shaheen last week of the number of minorities in each department showed black employees make up six percent of the fire department, 14 percent of the community development office, 20 percent of administrative positions, and 21 percent of utility workers.

In total, blacks hold 17 percent of the city's 495 positions.

Mayor Chuck Shaheen said, "It's important we do this as a whole municipality."

Shaheen says he wants to increase diversity by reviewing hiring practices and recruiting from minority schools.

He said, "Were going to get a plan and make sure were going to recruit the best candidates, but we also want everyone to have an opportunity to apply."

He says they want to hire the most qualified candidates, with a focus on attracting a large pool of minority applicants.

Last November, Eyewitness News talked with Police Chief Brett Evans about diversity in his department. He called his hiring practices "color blind" and said decisions are based on nationally standardized tests, a physical exam and a background check.

Evans said the city should focus on pay if they want to recruit more qualified minority applicants.

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