Up & Coming Weekly

August 15, 2017

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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12 UCW AUGUST 16 - 22, 2017 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM Fayetteville's city administration has tried and failed to improve em- ployee diversity in the Police and Fire Departments for the last 20 years. Councilman Chalmers McDougald took Fire Chief Ben Major to task for lack of progress at a City Council meeting last week. McDougald's de- meanor was in contrast to a meeting a month ago when he said he deliber- ately bit his tongue after learning that City Manager Doug Hewett pledged to make some changes. McDougald publicly scolded the fire chief while, for the most part, Hewett stayed silent. At one point, Major glared at McDougald with both hands on his hips. "No one is more committed to hiring minorities than I am," Major said. "Words are cheap," McDougald replied. Both men are black. Fewer than a dozen of Fay- etteville's 300 firefighters are black. Of the City's 433 police officers, only 80 of them, or 19 percent, are black, according to Assistant Police Chief Anthony Kelly. e U.S. Equal Employment Op- portunity Commission turned down the City in its request for assistance. EEOC officials pointed out that the agency responds to bias complaints, but does not offer advice to avoid complaints. Consequently, Hewett sent out a formal request for qualifi- cations to firms interested in con- sulting with the City on its efforts to improve police and fire employ- ee diversity. e most recent fire department hiring process received 693 applica- tions. Four hundred and sixteen were from white males; 130 from black men. Only 70 of the blacks made appointments for testing, according to information provided by Chief Major. Of that number, 53 showed up to take the test. Twenty-seven of them passed and qualified for the physical exam. McDougald has been consistently critical of the hir- ing process and says more enlight- ened methods should be used to find and recruit minorities. Major told Council that he has been talking to fire depart- ments across North Carolina and the nation only to find that minority recruiting is a universal problem among fire departments. Councilman Bill Crisp suggested that the City expand its fire academy at E.E. Smith High School. e fire ser- vice intern program was founded 12 years ago by retired Fire Chief Benny Nichols. But his dream of a full- fledged academy in conjunction with Fayetteville State University fizzled. Nichols's dreams were big: Fire Station 14 was built on Langdon Street property owned by FSU. It was designed as a teaching facility and community center with classrooms and dormitories for a "real life" cur- riculum developed though a partner- ship between the City of Fayetteville and the schools. It houses two fire engines and personnel. A 2010 FSU student recruiting paper said that its award-winning online bachelor's degree comple- tion program in Fire Science would provide students an opportunity to build on their fire science training and earn associate degrees from FTCC and advance to a B.S. Degree in Fire Science at FSU. e statement concluded, "Both of these compo- nents of the Fire Science Degree program came from the imagination and persistence of Chief Nichols of the Fayetteville Fire Department." Ultimately, though, there just wasn't enough student interest. Currently, the curriculum is only available online, and the facilities at Fire Station 14 never were fully utilized. e space has since been converted into fire department headquarters. NEWS Public Safety Departments Lack Diversity by JEFF THOMPSON JEFF THOMPSON, Senior News Reporter. COMMENTS? news@ upandcomingweekly.com. (910) 484-6200. Advertising Grow Your Business For effective advertising, Call 910.484.6200 today! www.upandcomingweekly.com e most recent fire department hiring process received 693 applications.

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