ST. MARTINVILLE — A more than 30-year-old court-ordered consent decree on the hiring and promotion of black and female employees within the St. Martinville Police Department may soon be lifted, a city official said Thursday.
City Attorney Allan Durand said an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., informed Chief Paula Smith on Thursday that the number of minority employees at her department was higher than any of the other 24 jurisdictions still under the consent decree.
That decree dates back to 1977, a period so long ago that many current employees of city government, the Police Department and the City Council were unaware of it until the city received a letter last month announcing the attorney’s visit, Durand said.
Attorney Rachel R. Hranitzky was scheduled to meet Thursday morning with employees of the Police Department and the general public to discuss any concerns with the hiring and promotion process currently in use.
The public hearing was canceled because Hranitzky had not received any comments or complaints about the department, Durand said.
“She didn’t see any reason to have the hearing,” Durand said.
An email seeking comment from the Justice Department was not returned Thursday.
Smith said she was relieved by the news. The department has maintained the diversity Smith inherited when she took over the chief’s post eight years ago, she said.
“That’s a great feeling to have that coming from the Justice Department,” Smith said.
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