NAACP Seeks Dept. Probe for Bias Against Black Police Officers

Hamil R. Harris, Washington Post, January 26, 2010

The Montgomery and Prince George’s chapters of the NAACP have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the Hyattsville police Department, alleging it discriminated against six African American officers.

June White Dillard, president of the Prince George’s County’s chapter of the NAACP, said the organization submitted documentation to the civil rights division of the Justice Department that shows a double standard exists in the 42-member police department. At a news conference at NAACP offices in Largo, she said African American officers have been subject to sexual harassment, wrongful terminations and a hostile work environment.

“Two African American officers were wrongfully terminated during their 18-month probationary period, while a white officer who had five accidents and two police misconduct charges was promoted during the probationary period,” Dillard said. “An African American officer had to present medical documentation and was still placed on patrol duty even though six months pregnant. A white female officer was given light duty with no medical requirements.

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Alejandro Miyar, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said the agency would review the letter to determine what action, if any, is appropriate.

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“These police officers have filed complaints about their treatment in the Hyattsville Police Department since 2002, and the city administrator has always cleared” the department, Dillard said. “There was no reason to contact them now because the department has failed to resolve any of these complaints for the last eight years.”

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“She was targeted and harassed because she is refusing to keep quiet,” said Smith’s Attorney Anitha Johnson. “They wouldn’t even give her leave when she was six months pregnant, so she agreed to go on patrol with a gun.”

In a statement, Phillips [Lt. Greg Phillips, spokesman for the Hyattsville police] said that the City of Hyattsville enforces an anti-discrimination policy and that he thinks the actions will be found to have been appropriate and consistent with that policy.

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