Critics contend Alton police department is not diverse enough

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by Chris Stanford / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on April 29, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 30 at 6:17 AM

(KMOV.com) - The Alton mayor is defending accusations that the city is discriminating against minorities applying for jobs in the police department.

African Americans make up 27 percent of the Alton population and 3 percent of the police force.  Of the city’s 60 police department employees, two are African American and two are Hispanic.

To me it is a form of racism,” said James Gray, the president of the Alton chapter of the NAACP.

Gray said his city’s police force is grossly misrepresented and he’s trying to change that.

“It would benefit, because it would seem that we’re all inclusive, and the way it is now, we’re not all inclusive,” Gray said.

Mayor Brant Walker said race and gender are not considered when hiring police employees.

“It’s a blind test, and I can assure you that this administration works mayor diligently to recruit minorities,” said Walker.

Alton officers are hired by an independent Civil Service Commission.  The commission is appointed by the mayor and two of the three members are African American, according to Walker.

Alton police department candidates all go through the same testing, scored, and then selected by the commission.

“I can also assure you that I am very confident that the test we administer is fair to every applicant,” said Walker.

There are three women who work at the Alton Police Department.

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