Recruitment call for HFD sparks controversy

January 17, 2013 4:07:41 PM PST
There's fallout over a controversial recruitment call for the Houston Fire Department. The call to action was posted on Facebook by a member of Houston's Human Resources Department, who was once a captain with HFD.

City officials insist that all departments are equal opportunity employers. But some of those officials are calling one recruiter's actions inappropriate.

Houston firefighters battle dozens of fires every year.

"The selection process and the hiring process is completely unbiased," said Houston Fire Department Capt. Ruy Lozano.

Former firefighter Dwight Allen works as a recruiter for the city, but you might remember Allen from 2009. He was one of seven Houston firefighters to sue the city, claiming its written tests were unfair to African Americans. The city later settled.

Now Allen is back in the spotlight, and some are accusing him of racism. He put up a letter on his personal Facebook page. It reminds readers of the application deadlines and requirements and then says:

"We would like to flood the exam with members from our family and neighborhoods with over 50-60 percent taking the test looking just like us or from our neighborhood. Please help me to make this happen!!!"

The post ends with his official title and phone number.

"If someone wants to post something like that on their own, it's certainly their business, but I think leaving the HR title on there could've been seen as something that we probably did not want," said Allen's boss, human resource director Omar Reid.

"When we saw the posting, we asked Mr. Allen to remove the posting and at that point he comply with removing the posting," Reid said. "He did offer his resignation and we have not made a determination one way or another."

The city isn't firing Allen. It's his decision whether to stay. Allen didn't want to comment on this story, but the Houston Black Firefighters Association, of which Allen is a member, did meet with us.

"He says people who looks like us. If I don't know who Dwight Allen is, I don't know how he looks. How can I make a racist statement?" said the group's spokesperson Gaylon Davenport.

He says Allen was just doing his job.

"If he feels like he has to do this to attract minorities because I'm assuming that's what this meant, then maybe the city is doing something wrong," Davenport.

The mayor's spokesperson had no comment on this story, aside from mentioning that Allen has offered his resignation. As of now, he is still employed by the city.

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