Gus Burns, MLive, May 11, 2020
Michigan State Police Director Col. Joseph Gasper and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are accused in a pair of lawsuits of implementing illegal affirmative action practices to bolster the number of minority and women troopers.
Two federal lawsuits filed Monday, May 11 claim Gasper told troopers at an Oct. 7 “fall forum” that the department was “way too white and way too male.”
“He then revealed that as part of the affirmative action directive the MSP was to set aside 25% of the positions within the MSP for minorities and 20% for females,” according to the lawsuit filed by Inspector Michael A. Caldwell, a 54-year-old who joined the force in 1990.
Caldwell, who was demoted from his position as captain in March, and former state police Inspector Robert M. Hahn, a 59-year-old who joined the agency in 1990 and was fired in March, say they suffered retaliation because they spoke out in opposition to the agency’s “affirmative action directive.”
MSP spokeswoman Shanon Banner said an internal investigation that concluded in late March revealed Hahn and Caldwell “violated department policy related to the promotion process.”
The Michigan Constitution forbids affirmative action in the hiring of government workers, based on a ballot initiative passed by voters in 2006.
According to a five-year MSP strategic plan published by the state and included as an exhibit in Hahn’s lawsuit, the agency set a goal of reaching a total of at least 25% racial minorities and 20% women in the qualified hiring pool by 2022. The plan does not set a racial or gender goal for the makeup of the force.
As of of April, about 10% of 1,982-trooper agency identified as a racial minority; 6% were black; 91% were men, according to data released by MSP. Michigan’s population is 79% white, 14% black and 51% female, according to the most recent U.S. Census estimates.
Hahn’s lawsuit said the state “disingenuously” characterizes MSP’s “racial and gender preferences as ‘valuing diversity and inclusion,’ when in fact the MSP does not value white males and is in fact making great efforts to exclude them.”