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Cleveland council members concerned, no minorities in city fire cadet class

Posted at 9:42 PM, Feb 24, 2020

CLEVELAND — Some Cleveland city council members expressed their disappoint and concern after they said they learned there weren't any minority candidates in the upcoming city fire department cadet class.

Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland told News 5 the current fire class applicants are made up of 42 white male candidates and no minorities, which is a violation of city guidelines, which require at least one out of every 10 candidates be a minority.

Cleveland said she's wondering why the city civil service commission couldn't come up with even one African American, Hispanic, Asian or female candidate.

“How many people did they have to go through, and they came up with 42 white males, it doesn’t add up,” Cleveland said.

It’s disturbing that it doesn’t speak to this city, it doesn’t reflect the city and it’s problematic.”

“We really need to sit down and see what happened, is there a flaw in the process, is there a flaw in the list.”

Cleveland Councilman Kevin Conwell expressed his concerns over the current lack of minorities in the upcoming fire cadet class to Cleveland Fire Chief Angelo Calvillo during city budget hearings on Feb. 19.

Conwell threatened to hold his vote on the Cleveland city budget, if the issue isn't addressed.

“How can I look them in the face and have all white males, and no African Americans, no women, no Asians, no anything. Something is wrong,” Conwell said.

“I was very, very disappointed, that I would not sign the budget if we didn’t move forward to take care of this, because it’s wrong and it’s not right.”

“I think it’s more than just recruiting, we have to look through the whole process, recruitment as well as going through training."

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's administration responded to the concerns and told News 5 the cadet class has not yet been finalized, that it is working on a solution.

The administration issued the following statement:

"There is no current Fire Academy class and selections have not been made for the next class.

We are still in the early stages of processing candidates and no specific demographics exist because the final class has not been formed.

The Cleveland Department of Public Safety is committed to recruiting a diverse pool of candidates and is executing an approach and strategy to encourage minority and female candidates."

On Feb. 25, News 5 obtained a list of test scores for all applicants.

There were 6 African American males and one Asian male who took the fire cadet test who were not accepted.

Four of the African American males tested finished in the top ten percent of scores, but there may have been other factors.

We're still waiting for an explanation from the city.

Still, Cleveland Councilman Blaine Griffin and other council members are call for an investigation into the selection process, and said they are trying to get Cleveland fire union leaders involved.

Griffin said council is now in the process of assembling a committee to see if the Cleveland Schools could be part of a new effort to better recruit minority candidates for safety service positions in the future.

“We think the process has failed, and we’re going to have to look at the system, we’re going to have to work closely with the administration,” Griffin said.

“We’re going to have to deal with The Vanguards, which we have been in close contact with, who are the black fire fighters, and Local 93, who are the fire fighters union.”