- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 29, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Less than 6 percent of the new police officers graduating in Pittsburgh’s latest training academy class are black, yet diversity activists say the department is making strides in minority recruitment.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported (https://bit.ly/1YLxYJz ) that Monday’s graduating class of 34 officers included two black recruits.

Brandi Fisher, president of the Alliance for Police Accountability, a grassroots organization focused on criminal justice reform, called the graduating class, “ridiculous.” The class included one Asian and one Hispanic man, a white woman and 29 white men.

“I do think we can do better, and I see some improvement,” Fisher said. “That next class coming out, I think it’s phenomenal, and I think that’s reflective of Pittsburgh.”

The next academy class has 40 recruits, 10 of whom are black.

Fisher says the upcoming class shows the department’s improvement in recruiting.

The city, which has been criticized for a lack of diversity in its police ranks, settled a $1 million lawsuit this year that was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The suit claimed police hiring policies discriminated against blacks.

About 26 percent of Pittsburgh’s population is black.

Tim McNulty, a spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto, said the city’s new recruitment methods led to the class. Those methods include a recruitment website, mentor program, social media, recruitment events and information sessions, child care and transportation for recruitment, and testing events and partnerships to increase outreach.

“Mayor Peduto is proud of the city’s work to attract a pool of qualified police applicants that more closely mirrors the makeup of Pittsburgh itself, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” McNulty said.

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