The Cincinnati African-American Firefighter Association (CAFA), as part of their diversity plan, has sought to increase the diversity of the Fire Department (CFD). Inaction will see the number of African American firefighters decline. CAFA has worked for several years to create a fire academy. CAFA learned that Western Hills University High School (WHUHS) already established a Law and Public Career Pathway with an EMT training program. CAFA sought out CPS as a partner to add a fire academy within the framework of that career pathway. Facing significant minority attrition within the CFD CAFA believed that partnering with CPS to create a fire academy would benefit both CPS students and the CFD in its effort to recruit diverse talents. CAFA started working with then WHUHS principal Kenneth Jump, who already had a stated goal of expanding the Law and Public Safety Career Pathway to include courses in firefighting and law enforcement. CAFA and Mr. Jump’s efforts resulted in the May 2017 announcement that the City and CPS would partner to establish a Fire Academy at WHUHS. The Sentinel Police Association (SPA) facing the same minority attrition concerns as CAFA sought to include a law enforcement track as part of the Law and Public Career Pathway. In February of 2018 all the individual organizations joined together into a formal work group to develop, finalize and implement the plan to create a partway to a career in public safety with the Cincinnati Fire and Police Departments
Civil Service Credit Ordinance
In August of 2019, with the advocacy of CAFA and the SPA, Councilman Greg Landsman sponsored an ordinance that was supported unanimously by City Council to award merit points for graduates of the PSA. The ordinance purpose is to award civil service examination credits to graduates, who bring their specialized training and knowledge to Cincinnati policing and firefighting through the academy to a career with the CFD or CPD. The ordinance serves as an incentive for CPS students who will increase their merit and fitness for a career in public safety to participate in the public safety academy, when established. In order to be eligible for the credit, individuals would have to successfully graduate from a fire or police program conducted at the PSA. The PSA is to be established by CPS in collaboration with the City of Cincinnati. The PSA curriculum would have to be approved by the City of Cincinnati administration and its fire and police administration. The 5 points would apply only to entry level examinations positions. Five (5) additional civil service credits to the civil service examination can make a considerable difference in candidates’ examination scores.
The Ordinance, Issue 15, was put before the voters of Cincinnati in the November 2018 elections. The voters of Cincinnati over whelmingly voted “yes” for Issue 15 and the establishment of the PSA for CPS students.