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Police Panel Asks City to Oppose Hiring Change

April 18, 1985

The Los Angeles Police Commission voted Wednesday to ask the City Council to oppose any attempts by the federal government to modify the city's affirmative-action hiring policies designed to increase the numbers of women and minorities in the municipal work force.

Commissioner Barbara Schlei said modification of the city's affirmative-action program could result in as many as 600 lawsuits from individuals she claimed were "victims" of the Police Department's "past illegal hiring practices."

The commission's unanimous vote followed the April 2 disclosure by the U.S. Department of Justice that it is asking 50 cities across the country to revise their court-approved affirmative-action plans.

Justice Department officials sought the modifications based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Memphis case forbidding that city to lay off white firefighters with more seniority than minorities in order to comply with its affirmative-action guidelines. On Monday, however, the high court agreed to review its decision in the Memphis case.

Schlei, who made the motion that the commission oppose the Justice Department on the affirmative-action issue, praised the court-approved consent decrees currently governing the city's hiring practices involving women, blacks and Latinos.

She said that since the 1980 decrees were approved in U.S. District Court, the number of women on the police force has increased from 179 to 518, while the ranks of blacks have jumped from 441 to 755 and Latinos from 709 to 1,042.

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