A federal judge ordered the Boston Police Department yesterday to abandon a court-ordered affirmative-action hiring policy that it has followed for 30 years, the Boston Globe reports. U.S. District Judge Patti Saris said the department has enough minority members in its ranks and can no longer use race as a basis for hiring. The ruling came in a suit by eight white men who were denied jobs last year as police officers. It put an end to the department’s practice of hiring one minority candidate for every white candidate it brings on board.
The ruling closes a chapter on three decades of affirmative-action hiring practices at the police and fire departments, both of which had been following 1974 federal consent decrees providing that they reach roughly the same percentage of African-American and Hispanic officers on their forces as in the city’s population. Saris said that the Police Department has met that goal of racial parity for more than a year. A similar ruling by a federal appeals court found that the Fire Department had achieved racial balance among its firefighters and could no longer follow similar racial quotas. Saris noted that as Boston’s minority population has increased substantially over 30 years, minority representation within the Police Department “has grown even faster.” Harold Lichten, a Boston lawyer who filed the suits against the police and fire departments, said Saris’s ruling “will mean people will now be hired based on score, not whether they are black or white. It could radically change the numbers of minorities and whites that are hired in the Police Department.”