LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Is the City of Lake Charles fair when it comes to hiring minorities in the fire and police departments?
That was the question under discussion on Wednesday at a public U.S. Department of Justice hearing at the Lake Charles Civic Center.
Discussed was a 32-year-old decree to improve the hiring of minorities. Lake Charles is one of 25 municipalities across the state still on the decree, waiting to be released.
"The only way they can release the City of Lake Charles or any municipality from the terms of the consent decree is the judge," Mayor Randy Roach said. "The judge has jurisdiction over this particular litigation."
And making sure the city is in compliance.
"There was a concern that females weren't being hired and African Americans weren't being hired," Rachel Hranizky with the Department of Justice said. "I realize the demographics have changed since the 70s, but the purpose of it was to insure that hiring was done with a blind eye to race and sex."
Hranizky said since the creation of the decree in the late 70s, Lake Charles has taken the initiative to improve the work forces in both the police and fire departments.
"We're actually trying to release all of those that are now in compliance and as I indicated, Lake Charles looks good and are now in compliance," Hranizky said.
Looking forward to being released from the decree, Mayor Roach said the city has worked hard to cooperate and work with the DOJ.
"We certainly are sensitive to the obligation to the community to hire people that are representative of the community and we always want to make sure that we follow that, pursue that and I think our departments understand that's important as well," Roach said.
Not just as a statement of fairness, but a statement of making sure Lake Charles has a diverse workforce that represents the city.
If you have questions or concerns, contact the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division at (202) 305-1642.
The U.S. Department of Justice released the following public notice regarding public commentary in the matter:
On August 8, the United States Department of Justice held a public hearing at the Lake Charles Civic Center to receive comments about the City's recruiting, hiring, and staffing of minorities and females in its fire and police departments pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Consent Decree issued in 1980 in the matter entitled, United States of America v. City of Alexandria. Anyone wishing to contact the United States Department of Justice to express their comments on this matter should contact the United States Department of Justice immediately at the following address:
Ms. Rachel R. Hranitzky
Senior Trial Attorney
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division - Employment Litigation Section
Mailing Address (takes two weeks to arrive) Civil Rights Division, Employment Litigation Section Patrick Henry Building Room 4030
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530
Overnight Delivery Address:
Civil Rights Division, Employment Litigation Section
601 D Street, N.W., PHB-Room 4030
Washington, DC 20579