28 High-Ranking MPD Officers Could Be Demoted

Jessica Gertler, WREG (Memphis), January 20, 2015

More than two dozen high-ranking Memphis officers could be stripped of their positions by the end of the week.

The officers sued the city, saying the tests they took to get promoted discriminated against African-American officers, and that’s why they failed.

Now nearly 15 years later, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge ruled the tests didn’t discriminate, and those officers should never have been promoted.

Twenty-eight officers were involved in the suit. They were promoted to lieutenant several years ago and have continued to climb rank. Some are now majors in the department.

City attorneys will meet with the officers to try to reach an agreement, but if they can’t, we could see changes in MPD.

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A federal judge agreed with the officers in 2010, and ordered the officers keep their ranks, get back pay, and the city covers their $1 million court costs.

Now an appellate judge changed everything in late October, ruling the promotion test was perfectly fine and didn’t violate any civil rights laws.

“This ruling has been on the table for several weeks. The most recent action was in the Supreme Court that said it is not going to hear this case,” Chief Administrative Officer George Little said. “So either some agreement is reached relative to the demotions, or we are prepared to execute on the judge’s order and demote the individuals. Director Armstrong and his staff will figure out how to handle that.”

Little said the city will ultimately do what the court orders.

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Little said this entire process has been tiresome for everyone involved.

“It has got to be stressful not knowing whether or not you are going to be demoted back. This was a group of individuals, so we got to make a decision as a group of individuals. We can’t pick one individual over another. I’m sure that’s creating issues within MPD,” Little said.

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