Parma Passes Over More Qualified Minorities For Police Position

PARMA, Ohio (AP) - The overwhelmingly white Cleveland suburb of Parma passed over two higher-scoring minority candidates when it hired three whites to become police officers.

The hirings came three weeks after Parma signed an agreement in July to recruit and hire more minorities, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported Thursday.

Guy Singleton, 33, a black man from Cleveland Heights, ranked second on the civil service list. William Figueroa Jr., a Hispanic man living in Parma, was ranked 11th.

White candidates ranking fifth, eighth and 20th were hired to join the 100-member force in Cleveland's biggest suburb.

The department offered Singleton the job but withdrew the offer because he failed psychological and lie detector tests, said Public Safety Director Bob Dybzinski.

Singleton said he thought he had passed.

"I have no clue what happened," he said. "I went through the psychological and polygraph tests and came out smiling. The polygraph guy said, 'OK, you're good. You're truthful.'"

Figueroa remains eligible for hiring. Dybzinski said the candidate who ranked 20th was more qualified. Mayor Gerald Boldt said police followed the standard hiring process.

"There is no reason to suspect that there was any kind of racial discrimination here," Boldt said.

The Parma police force has one black patrolman and two women. The Parma Fire Department has no blacks or women. Parma has two black workers in its 550-member labor force.

In 1990, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sued Parma after a black man charged that he had been treated unfairly in his bid to become a Parma police officer.

In July, the city council approved a consent decree ending the federal lawsuit, agreeing to pay NAACP lawyers $295,000. As part of the agreement, Parma agreed to monitoring by the U.S. District Court.

Dybzinski said he did not violate the consent decree because he did offer Singleton the job conditionally.

Dybzinski said white candidates were also eliminated as the Civil Service Commission pared a list of 25 test finalists to 12. Some failed psychological and lie detector tests, and others took jobs elsewhere.

There were 182 people on the civil service list, including 150 white men, 18 white women, five black men, one black women, four Hispanic men and one Hispanic woman.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)