From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Thirty-six recruits will enter the city’s police academy today. Marlin Avant is the only one who is black.

His journey from the son of a Braddock police officer to an officer himself on the streets of Pittsburgh is a rare success story in the city’s long-standing struggle to diversify a historically white department, which will become even whiter with the addition of the new recruits.

Also a Navy veteran who served in Iraq, Mr. Avant, 34, is exactly the kind of candidate the city seeks but who hardly ever makes the ranks. Even after a record 280 minorities applied for police jobs in 2008, the last time the city gave a civil service test, just 51 were eligible for this year’s class.

Of those, many failed a physical fitness test. Others never showed up. And the majority found other opportunities, moved away or simply lost interest during the more than two years it took the city to assemble a new class of recruits.

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