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Retired cops sue NYPD over discrimation claims in elite unit

Two black detectives and the widow of a

Two black detectives and the widow of a third filed a federal class action lawsuit against the NYPD on Monday. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Two black detectives and the widow of a third filed a federal class action lawsuit against the NYPD Monday alleging they were denied promotion for years in the department’s intelligence division because of race.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal district court, alleged there was pervasive discrimination against black detectives in the division, an elite unit of the NYPD involved in intelligence operations and public security investigations.

Plaintiffs in the case are Jon Jason McCollum, a 24-year-veteran who retired in June 2016; Roland Stephens, a 26-year member of the NYPD who retired in July, and Sara Coleman, widow of retired detective Theodore Coleman who died in May 2016.

In court papers, the plaintiffs allege that an “exceedingly small percentage of African American police officers are ever given investigative work and given the opportunity to transfer to the Intelligence Division,” a unit that is now designated as a bureau.

The complaint further alleges that while blacks represent 18 percent of the NYPD and 16 percent of all detectives, the Intelligence unit is only six percent black, while whites, who are 50 percent of the force, make up 80 percent of the unit and 57 percent of all detectives.

The suit also seeks a court injunction to end alleged discrimination in the unit, retroactive promotions for the plaintiffs and unspecified monetary damages.

The three ex-detectives each had the rank of third grade detective when they originally filed complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2011. The EEOC in 2016 referred the case to the Department of Justice, which this year declined to file a lawsuit, court papers stated.

An NYPD spokesman said the allegations weren’t new and the department was prepared to defend against the lawsuit.

“A review of a recent ten-year period, which includes the timeframe of this litigation, shows that black third-grade detectives within the Intelligence Bureau were promoted at a faster pace than their colleagues,” said spokesman Peter Donald.

 

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