Former NYPD cops Richard Murphy (l.) and Edward McMellon were accepted into the FDNY despite being knocked off the police force for their involvement in the fatal shooting of Amadou Diallo.
FDNY hiring practices were scrutinized Monday as a top department official was questioned about the hiring of two white former cops who beat murder raps in the infamous police shooting of Amadou Diallo.
Dean Tow, director of candidate investigations for the FDNY, was grilled in Brooklyn Federal Court Monday by a lawyer for the Vulcan Society, a fraternal organization of black firefighters.
The organization wants the court to appoint a special monitor to oversee reforms in the FDNY - particularly in the hiring exam, which has helped create a department that is 91% white.
Tow struggled to explain how a white firefighter candidate who had earlier been entangled in a domestic incident involving a weapon was hired, while a minority candidate who was arrested for "pushing" his wife was not.
"I did not have these two cases before me at the same time," Tow said.
Tow was then asked about former NYPD cops Richard Murphy and Edward McMellon. They got jobs at the FDNY after they were cleared by a jury of gunning down Diallo, who they had mistaken for a wanted rapist.
"Did you have any concern that, perhaps, in shooting an innocent civilian (the cops') judgment, while although not criminal, may have been faulty?" asked lawyer Richard Levy, counsel for the Vulcan Society.
"No," Tow replied tersely.
The Vulcan Society is seeking the appointment of a special monitor by Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis to order changes in the way the FDNY recruits candidates and vets them. It also wants the monitor to reform the way the department investigates discrimination and retaliation complaints lodged by minority firefighters.
Garaufis has previously ruled that the last two written firefighter tests were discriminatory against minorities. As a result, the FDNY has been barred from hiring new firefighters for the last three years.
The FDNY announced recently that it has developed a new test, but it has yet to be approved by Garaufis.
In the coming days, Garaufis will hear testimony from black firefighters about racial hatred in city firehouses. That testimony is expected to include allegations of a white firefighter wearing Ku Klux Klan robes; nooses being placed in firehouses; and slurs being scrawled on a flyer commemorating the deaths of black firefighters on 9/11.
City lawyers tried to preclude that testimony, calling it "inflammatory." They argued it would have a negative effect on the FDNY's current campaign to recruit minority candidates to take the next firefighter exam.
But Garaufis shot right back. He said that if the city is worried about that fallout, it should therefore settle the ongoing civil rights lawsuit originally brought by the federal government.
"If anyone's worried about the effect the Fire Department's alleged dirty linen is going to have on the recruitment process, let the chips fall where they may," Garaufis said.