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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fire Department Doesn't Favor White Officers, City Says

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2011 at 3:27 PM

click to enlarge Who's in charge here?
  • Who's in charge here?

The Civil Service Commission has rejected accusations that the San Francisco Fire Department purged itself of African-American supervisors by helping white officers cheat on an advancement test. Now, Chief Joanne Hayes-White is free to appoint new, high-scoring assistant chiefs, all of whom happen to be, well, white.

On Monday, commissioners received a 40-page report chronicling an investigation of accusations that senior white officers tutored white underlings and leaked exam information to white test-takers.

"The commission found there was no reason to support the allegations," said Donald Casper, vice president of the commission.

On Feb. 16, I wrote about how the San Francisco Black Firefighters Association leveled a racially charged allegation: City officials failed to properly investigate accusations that white officers had coached select SFFD employees prior to a promotion exam.

Investigate they did -- and last week the Department of Human Resources released a report saying the accusations were unfounded.

The Black Firefighters alleged that senior SFFD officers had tutored white underlings on how to pass the advancement exam, leaked information about the exam. One superior officer allegedly visited a special cram session to make sure white test-takers had the inside scoop.

Last fall, when the exams had been completed, the city's two black assistant fire chiefs scored poorly and opted to retire rather than be demoted. Lower-ranking firefighters, meanwhile, placed at the top of a list of officers who were eligible for promotion. All of them were white males.

Assistant Chief Kevin Taylor, who is African American, responded with an explosive charge, calling it an orchestrated racial purge. However, three Department of Human Resources employees who looked into the matter failed to find any evidence of such a scheme.

"There was no one who'd been interviewed by DHR who had direct knowledge of any tutoring or leaking," said Casper.

The white senior officers who were supposedly ringleaders of the scheme denied the allegation. So Civil Service Commissioners felt they had no reason to not let the promotions proceed.

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