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Syracuse joins federal government in motion to try to change civil service tests

The city of Syracuse has joined the federal government in a legal motion that could end up changing the civil service tests that are the baseline for hiring police and firefighters across the state.

It's been more than three decades since the city of Syracuse signed a consent decree with the federal government outlining the city's hiring practices when it comes to minorities. Mayor Stephanie Miner says the city has made progress hiring minorities through the years, but notes that things have changed since the days of the decree, when African-American males were identified as the minority.

"We would like it to include for example, African-American women; Native Americans; we have a big burgeoning new American population. We'd like it to include Latinos. We'd like it to include women. So we have more categories, because there's more diversity now than just African-American men and everybody else."

Miner also says the city has been looking for a way to boost minority hiring, and has started discussions with the Justice Department.

"In our conversations with the attorney general's office, they pointed out that it's been their experience that the test has a disparate impact on minority and underrepresented communities," Miner said. "They asked that we join in that lawsuit to say that the test is flawed."

If the state can't defend itself against that accusation, then it will have to come up with new civil service tests.