White Officers Claim Discrimination in Asbury

Kathy Matheson, Asbury Park Press (NJ), May 5

ASBURY PARK—Five white police officers who say they were overlooked for promotions and discriminated against because of the color of their skin are suing the department, the city and several black officials for unspecified damages.

Attorneys for the men say they filed a pair of reverse-bias lawsuits that depict the Police Department as a racially charged and hostile work environment, a situation they claim was created by Police Director Louis Jordan.

Jordan, who is black, was hired in May 2002 and basically said he was “going to punish white officers for what he perceived were past wrongs,” said Florham Park attorney Gina Mendola Longarzo, one of the lawyers involved.

“There’s some pretty outrageous conduct here,” she said.

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Gagliano, White and Crescio—all of whom are eligible to be promoted to sergeant—contend in their suit that Jordan is not elevating anyone to the rank because eight of the nine candidates are white. This is despite the fact that the department is short three sergeants, the complaint says.

Jordan stated that he “wanted to hire the brothers,” according to the lawsuit.

McDonald claims he was passed over for deputy chief in favor of Reed, who is black and had less seniority. After filing a grievance, McDonald says he suffered “constant indignities and petty abuses,” including being stripped of most of his responsibilities.

Bercovicz contends he was one of three white officers removed without cause from the detective bureau in 2002. They were replaced by black officers, some with less seniority, according to the complaint.

Bercovicz complained and also suffered retaliation, including being given unfavorable schedules and not being allowed to teach a detective skills course that he had been doing for several years, according to the complaint.

Both lawsuits allege Jordan also threatened to remove two white lieutenants from their positions because they were part of the “good old boy network,” and that he said he would “skip over any white officers” when making promotions to captain.

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