Peoria is working to overcome racial, gender disparities within the two largest departments

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PEORIA, Ill. — (UPDATE) Tuesday Patrick Urich told WMBD that he made a mistake saying that the city will be moving from the original 10-year-plan to a 20-year plan.

Both the city and the first responder departments will be working together to ensure that the workforce is made up of 40% minorities by 2025.


(ORGINAL) –The City of Peoria and two of its largest departments are working on a plan to increase minorities in the workplace.

When it comes to minority representation, the Peoria Police Department and Fire Department do not look like the city, prompting questions within those departments. In 2015, the city put a subcommittee together to help push diversity.

During that time, NAACP also revealed that between 2005 and 2015, Peoria’s fire department hired one black male. New Peoria Fire Chief Tony Ardis said based on Peoria’s demographic, each department should have at least 40% of minorities.

Right now, 19% of the police force and 16% of the fire department are minorities.

Peoria Police Department Demographics
Current Fire Department demographic

“If the youth minority… if alls they see is a bunch of caucasian firefighters, a caucasian police officer is kind of detergent to them,” he said. “Its kind of like that’s not something I can do because they don’t see someone that looks like them.”

In 2016, the Peoria City Council pledged to put money and efforts in that department so it can reflect the community, but Peoria Fire Captin James McCoy said a year a half after plans were put in place, efforts slipped.

“I hope that the city is going to put the resources back to supporting that because it was going in a positive direction. We were making improvements,” McCoy said.

Originally, the 2016 Fair Employment Practice ordinance was put in place to hold the city accountable. They are expected to follow 10 recommendations that would get them on track to achieve a workforce that reflects the community by 2025.

Now, that 10-year plan has turned into a 20-year plan.

City Manager Patrick Urich said the time frame within the ordinance can change anytime because it states that reaching the yearly proposed 8% increase for the police and 11% increase for the fire department are not quotas, but goals.

“We are doing what we can. The timing was right for us to look at trying to increase our recruiting efforts,” Urich said.

“We want a workforce that is reflective of the population. It’s really difficult because we don’t hire that often. These are lofty goals that are going to be nearly impossible to achieve, but as long as we are continuously trying I think we are making strides,” Ardis said.

Councilmember and Co-Chair for the Police and Fire Subcommittee Rita Ali said she will make sure to hold the city accountable so it doesn’t keep getting pushed back.

“I think we have to revisit the goals that are before us now. It’s hard to hold people accountable in 2040,” Ali said.

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