Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The Jackson Police and Fire departments are no longer bound by a 1974 consent decree in the promotion and hiring of employees. Last week, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate determined that the city "has fulfilled its obligations under both decrees," which were devised to counter racial discrimination in hiring and promotions.
Brandon Falcon, president of firefighters' Local 87 union, said he could not predict if the end of the decree would streamline the process of recruiting new firefighters. Both the fire department and the police department suffer staff shortages.
Falcon said lifting the consent decree would, at least, mean that the fire department could dispense with the lottery system currently used in the hiring process. "I always thought that the lottery system was a bad idea. I mean, I'm here now only because I beat out some other guy who may or may not have been more qualified than me. The lottery took no account of experience. It was a bad idea, and I'm hoping it'll be gone before our next graduating class," Falcon said.