BOWLING GREEN, Ky.— The U.S. Department of Justice says it is investigating hiring practices at the Bowling Green Police Department.
Media reports say the Justice Department has sent a letter to Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson saying it is looking into whether the city “is engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against African-Americans with respect to employment opportunities.”
The letter says the city should have more black officers based on its population demographics. Out of 113 sworn police personnel, six, or 5.3 percent, are black. The 2010 U.S. Census showed the city is made up 13.9 percent black residents.
Wilkerson says the department has used a pre-employment exam from McCann Associates since at least the 1970s. It is during this testing where it appears that more minorities are disqualified from advancing in the hiring process, he said.
The investigation stems from a statistical analysis taken by the Justice Department and not a complaint, Wilkerson said.
“We clearly thought we had a colorblind hiring process at the police department,” said Wilkerson, a former city officer.
The city is going to take a look at its hiring practices in every department and make any necessary changes. Wilkerson said the city will take a more aggressive approach to minority recruitment.
“We want to be partners with the DOJ in identifying what the city of Bowling Green can do better in its hiring practices to even avoid the appearance of a disparate impact,” Wilkerson said.
The Department of Justice will be in Bowling Green in August to meet with Wilkerson and other city officials.