By Antonio Planas

Boston police hired fewer than 10 percent of minority applicants who took the Civil Service exam to become a patrol officer and join the most recent class of recruits, according to data obtained by the Herald.

Of the more than 500 candidates who identified their ethnicity and took the test, 167 were black, Hispanic or Asian, according to the state's Human Resources Division.

But only 14 of those applicants ended up joining the class of 53 officers who graduated from the academy late last month and are now working as beat cops. The group is 74 percent white men and women.

The Boston Police Department's hiring practices are under investigation by the state's Civil Service Commission. Last week the panel ordered the BPD to notify 110 candidates who were not hired of their right to appeal.

"Right now the police department does not reflect that Boston is a majority-minority city. And as the city has been diversifying ... the police department keeps falling behind," said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.

Madrigal said a "significant number of people of color" were not hired using a questionable process at a time when the city "desperately" needs to hire more minority officers. The process, Madrigal said, shows why "the department continues to not look or feel like the community it protects and polices."

Civil Service Commission Chairman Christopher C. Bowman blasted BPD last week for overstepping its boundaries and accused the department of hand-picking who could go before the commission with an appeal.

In all, 503 of 551 candidates provided by the state identified their race. According to the commission's findings, 209, or 61 percent, of the top 342 ranked candidates never took the first step initiating the hiring process.

BPD spokesman Lt. Michael McCarthy said in a statement: "The Boston Police Department prides itself on being one of the most diverse departments in the city and works every day to improve diversity along all ranks, even bringing back the cadet program to assist in achieving that goal.

"The Department consistently looks for ways to improve minority recruitment including the revitalization of the Explorer Program through the B-2 community service office. The Department is equally concerned about the large number of potential candidates that did not take the necessary first step in the hiring process."

(c)2016 the Boston Herald