Sheriff Sherman Block said Wednesday that while he recognizes his department's obligation to affirmative action, that goal does not extend to actively recruiting homosexuals for the force.
The sheriff's remarks came as he was scheduled to meet today with officials in West Hollywood who have called for an increase in the number of gays on the force. That city pays the Sheriff's Department $8.5 million a year for police services.
West Hollywood city leaders have indicated that the Sheriff's Department has tentatively agreed to allow the city to help recruit new sheriff's deputies with the tacit aim of increasing the number of gays in its ranks. City Manager Paul Brotzman said details have yet to be worked out, but that the city likely will advertise in gay publications and do other recruiting through gay community groups.
But Block said such public remarks are premature before the meeting. Sexual orientation will never be a criterion for meeting affirmative action goals, he said.
"Sexual orientation, like religion, is private, a matter of personal choice," Block said. "It has no merit as a basis for hiring."