A group of black detectives announced plans to sue the NYPD Thursday, alleging the department passed them up for promotions and gave them to white candidates instead, The New York Times reported.
The three detectives announced their lawsuit after an investigative panel found a pattern of discrimination against the detectives’ unit and the Justice Department failed to take any action, The Times reported. The detectives were part of a mostly-black investigative group known internally as the “rap unit,” charged with going undercover at concerts to protect artists and plan security for venues.
The detectives complained that the unit was widely known as a career ender. Roland Stephens, 55, spent a dozen of his 26 years on the force in the “rap unit” before retiring this year. He claimed that the rare promotions dolled out to his unit were given to its few white members.
“You’re almost embarrassed to talk about it,” he told NYT. “It looks like you’re doing something wrong, it looks like you’re a bad guy, or you’re a bad seed. In reality, you’re being held back by no fault of your own.”
The investigative panel published its findings internally in 2016, issuing a scathing review of of the promotion process in the Investigative Group, of which the “rap unit” is a part. It claimed that Stephens and his colleagues received “lesser and later” opportunities compared to their white counterparts despite displaying equal or superior performance reviews.
The panel examined promotions over a seven-year period and found that black detectives had to wait an average of nine years for a promotion, compared to the white detectives’ seven years.
The detectives only announced plans to file the suit after the NYPD and DOJ failed to initiate reforms. The DOJ under Attorney General Jeff Sessions has backed further and further away from overseeing state and local police departments and prosecuting their potential civil rights violations.
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