SEPTEMBER 24, 2004 - Posted at 7:33 a.m. CDT
LITTLE ROCK, AR - A federal judge has lifted an order that required the Arkansas State Police to maintain a certain percentage of blacks and women among its police force.
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright also ruled that the state police be released from all aspects of the consent decree in two years, as long as no one objects.
Governor Huckabee said the decision was "great news" and a credit to the past three state police directors who believed that a fair hiring system and diversity in the ranks is good for the state police and good for arkansas.
The 26-year-old order stemmed from a 1977 complaint that the U.S. Justice Department filed against the state police claiming the agency "had engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful employment discrimination against blacks and women."
The two sides entered the consent decree the following year. In doing so, the state police did not admit wrongdoing but agreed to implement fair hiring and promotion policies and to meet certain goals. The goals were that more than 15 percent of the state police troopers would be black and about 46 percent would be female.