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The Cincinnati African-American Firefighters Association (CAFA) has worked for nearly three years to create a fire academy. CAFA learned that Western Hills University High School (WHUHS) already established a Law and Public Safety Career Pathway with an EMT training program. CAFA sought out Cincinnati Public Schools’ (CPS) as a partner to add a fire academy within the framework of that career pathway. Facing significant minority attrition within the Cincinnati Fire Department (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 talent. 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 a WHUHS.
The Sentinel Police Association 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 pathway to a career in public safety with the Cincinnati Fie and Police Departments. The work group consists of the CFD, the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD), CAFA Sentinels, CPS representatives, and City Law representatives. Counsel for CAFA and the Sentinels participate to the extent that counsel was responsible for drafting and presenting to City Council an ordinance for civil service points for academy graduates.
The 2018 ordinance was supported unanimously by City Council and a super majority of the CPS board. The ordinance’s sole purpose is to award civil service examination credits to graduates, who bring their specialized training and knowledge of Cincinnati policing and firefighting through the academy to a career with the CFD or CPD. The ordinance did not direct CPS to take any action or obligate specific funding. The ordinance simply serves as an incentive for CPS Students who will increase their merit and fitness for a career in public safety to participate in the safety academy. Five (5) additional civil service credits to the civil service examination can make a considerable difference in candidates’ examination scores. The only direction or approval required by the City would be approval of the academy’s fire and police curriculums to ensure the students have met state credentialing/certification requirements entitling the students to the five (5) civil service examination points. In order for the ordinance, known as Issue 15 – Public Safety Academy (PSA), to be enacted it had to go before the voters of Cincinnati in the November 2018 elections. In the November 2018 elections, Issue 15 – PSA passed overwhelmingly by the voters of Cincinnati. In fact, over 80,000 voters said yes for Issue 15, and the establishment of a PSA.