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East Palo Alto cops allege discrimination from former African-American chief

Posted by Peter K. Levine | Nov 29, 2013 | 0 Comments

East Palo Alto cops allege discrimination from former African-American chief

Just days after then-Police Chief Ron Davis announced he was leaving to serve as director of the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Policing, four East Palo Alto African-American police officers filed a racial discrimination complaint against him.

The complaint alleged that Davis, who is also African-American, created a hostile work environment for black employees because of his bias against African-Americans in hiring, promotions and assignments.

Allegedly, African-American senior officers are routinely passed over for sergeant positions, there are no black detectives in the investigative division, and according to court documents only one African-American police officer was hired during the time period of mid-2005 to mid-2013.

The complaint also states Davis sent his assigned African-American secretary to another city department shortly after his he arrived in 2005. Both an African-American woman hired as a crime analyst in 2006 and another African-American woman hired as an administrative services manager in 2007 alleged they were treated harshly. The analyst resigned in 2011, and the manager requested to be transferred to another department.

Discrimination complaint alleges use of the “n-word” on Facebook

The complaint also alleges that in 2011, an African-American sergeant told Davis a police department officer had posted the “n-word” on his Facebook page. But Davis failed to take action when that officer and his friends retaliated against the sergeant by harassing him.

“His temperament toward African-American employees is abrasive, belittling and dismissive,” states the complaint by Sgt. Roderick Norris and Renaldo Rhodes, and Officers Paul Norris and Paul Hines.

The three-page complaint letter sent to Barbara Powell, the assistant city manager for human resources, and other City Council members, cites several supportive examples of Davis' actions and behaviors.

“The examples that have been cited are a minute glimpse into the ongoing suffering endured by African American employees since Chief Davis took over the department,” the complaint states.

Powell said she can't talk about the complaint because it's a “confidential personnel matter,” but added that, “The city takes this very seriously, and the city will be following up on it.”

Davis could not be reached for comment and attempts to reach Hines and Paul Norris by phone and email were unsuccessful. According to a police department receptionist, Roderick Norris and Rhodes are currently on leave.

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