Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti defended his decision to suspend recruitment of new firefighters, amid complaints that the department’s ranks did not accurately represent the racial make up of the city.
Garcetti announced an outside review of the Los Angeles Fire Department’s hiring procedures in March, after thousands of prospective recruits were shut out of the hiring process because they failed to submit the appropriate paperwork within a one-minute filing deadline last year.
“I saw a broken system,” Garcetti said in an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos. “We have fine firefighters, some of the best in the country, we actually have a quite a bit of diversity but in the new classes that were [coming] in we didn’t find the best people necessarily … but we weren’t finding much nuance.”
Over 20 percent of the 70 latest recruits were relatives of current L.A. firefighters, the class was 60 percent white and contained only one woman. Multiple city officials said the hiring process did not boost diversity within the department.
Garcetti said he had to “speak out” on the LAFD’s racial makeup, just like he did when racist remarks made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling became public.
“These are moments when you have to stand up and speak out even when it’s difficult,” he said. “Even when there’s pressures to get along, these are the moments when we change the culture of our country and change the direction of a city.”