Maryland state police recruit classes in the next few years should be at least one-third black and 15 percent female, according to a new consent decree filed yesterday by the state police and the U.S. Justice Department.
The decree, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, is an extension of a 1974 agreement. That agreement was reached after the state police had been accused of discriminatory hiring in a lawsuit filed by a black applicant who failed to win a place in the recruit class.
In that decree the state police agreed to bring the number of black troopers up to 16 percent of the total force in five years. State police, however, failed to reach that goal. Today, 111 of the 1,547 troopers - or 6.9 percent - are black.
There were no women troopers in 1974. Now there are 23 making up 1.5 percent of the force.
Under the new agreement, justice department has agreed to drop the goal for black troopers. Instead of requiring that 16 percent of the force be black, the figure was dropped to 14 percent. The police were given no firm deadline to meet this requirement.
The mandatory percentage was reduced, according to state police spokesman Dan McCarthy, because of cutbacks in hiring in recent years.
"When the original agreement was reached the state police had two recruit classes of 60 troopers each year," McCarthy said. "Now there's one class with about 45 recruits each year."
In return for lowering the overall goal, state police agreed to step up their minority recruiting. In the last five years, black recruits have made up between 20 and 33 percent of the classes.
Now, in addition to the new requirements, at least one woman trooper will be assigned to the job of recruiting potential women troopers to increase the applicant goal.
Assistant Attorney General Drew S. Days III, head of the Civil Rights Division, said the department sought the modified decree based on the state police's hiring experience the past five years.
"Making the goal a percentage of troopers hired, rather than a certain change in the overall composition is more realistic," Days said.
The consent decree will remain in effect until 14 percent of the force is black.