Retired NYPD detectives, who are African American and worked as so-called hip-hop police, are suing the NYPD, charging they were passed over for promotions because of race. NY1 Criminal Justice Reporter Dean Meminger first reported on this controversy several years ago and brings us the update.
Retired Detectives Jon McCollum and Roland Stephens say they're proud of their work. But they claim the NYPD was racist when it came to promoting them and other black detectives.
"My white counterparts did a great job. I worked right alongside them, and I should have been promoted with them," McCollum said.
McCollum and Stephens worked in the elite NYPD Intelligence Bureau. Back in 2011, they, along with Theodore Coleman, who has since died, filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
After a lengthy investigation, the EEOC did determine that the black detectives were discriminated against, victims of a "wholly subjective and secret process" that operates without any real guidelines.
Now, the black detectives have filed a federal lawsuit for back-pay and a change in the promotion process.
"You do your best, and you are not acknowledged," Stephens said. "It makes you feel really unappreciated."
There is a $30,000 per year difference in salary between a third-grade detective and a higher first-grade. There's also about $15,000 extra per year in pension payments.
There's no exam to become a detective or to be promoted as one. It is based on performance and the discretion of high-ranking supervisors.
"The high ups, primarily white supervisors, who would promote and transfer those who were their friends," said Elizabeth Saylor, the plaintiffs' lawyer.
A lot of the black detectives worked in what was called the rap unit and were responsible for keeping an eye on rappers who were involved in violence. They say the so-called hip-hop police were rarely promoted.
"I thought the department would do the right thing when they knew about this and City Hall would do the right thing, and they did nothing," said Chris Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The NYPD argues that black intel detectives were promoted at a faster pace than their colleagues over the last ten years. And the Justice Department declined to pursue a discrimination case against the NYPD.
Lawyers for the black detectives said they have little faith in the findings of President Trump's Justice Department, and they'll see the NYPD in federal court.