Group claims Covington lacks diversity in hiring and promotion - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Group claims Covington lacks diversity in hiring and promotion

(WMC-TV) - Tupelo, Mississippi's police department is currently being investigated by the US Department of Justice about hiring practices and procedures.  Now, another Mid-South police and fire department is under scrutiny for the very same thing.

It was another contentious meeting at Covington City Hall Tuesday as residents filled council chambers.

"They are not understanding that the whole issue is unfairness, and it's unfairness in hiring and promotion," said former Covington councilwoman Minnie Bommer.

Bommer is leading an effort to change the city's hiring and promotion practices.  She and others feel there are not enough black police officers and firefighters in Covington.

"We're 48 percent of the population and have one black fireman for the last, they pointed out to me, someone was hired 18 years ago," Bommer added.

Covington Mayor David Gordon ordered Covington Fire Chief Jerry Craig to correct the lack of diversity in his department.  He also admitted there were not enough black officers on the police department.

"I still would like to see qualifications to be thrown out the door because we have enough African Americans in Covington qualified to be firefighters," said council member John Edwards.

Another city board member came to the defense of the mayor saying he has put diversity at the top of his priority list.

"You should be proud that we have a mayor like this instead of beating on his head all the time," said council member Bill Scruggs.  "He's fair."

"I did resent the fact the Mayor said I was threatening about calling in the Justice Department.  I had told them that I don't have a choice if questions weren't answered," Bommer continued.

Covington city board members voted to create a diversity oversight committee consisting of residents from each city district. 

The board will continue their discussion on this issue at their next finance and administration meeting coming up Tuesday, August 23 at 1:00 p.m.

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