Second SBPD officer files racial discrimination complaint

 

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The South Bend Police Department is under fire once again after another African American officer filed a racial discrimination complaint this week.

Lt. Marcus Wright claims he was held back from promotions and career opportunities because of the color of his skin, and alleges he faced retaliation when he spoke out about the department’s racial discrimination.

Wright is the second officer in recent months to make a race-based complaint. In February, Sgt. Nathan Cannon filed a lawsuit claiming three less-qualified white officers were promoted to the rank of lieutenant ahead of him.

This time around the allegations stem from that very same February 2014 hiring period when Ron Teachman was Chief of Police for SBPD. According to the complaint, a single-opening was posted for a day-shift lieutenant’s position after Lt. Sherry Taylor, an African American officer, retired from the force.

Wright is a 21 year veteran on the force, spending 15 year as a detective and seven as a Lieutenant within the Detective Bureau on the afternoon shift.

He made it known he wanted to be laterally transferred from the afternoon shift to the day shift. Longstanding department policy is to grant lateral transfers ahead of promoting from below, according to the suit, that’s not what happened.

Wright claims he was subjected to a “random and arbitrary interview process” for a rank he’d held for more than six years. The candidates were graded and assigned points by members of a three person panel and selection.

Following what Wright believes to have been a discriminatory interview process, three non-minority sergeants were promoted to the positions of day-shift lieutenants.

“This violated the written and unwritten, longstanding policy of the South Bend Police Department which was in every instance to grant lateral transfers for officers already holding a particular rank before assigning newly promoted officers to a shift.”

Furthermore, one of the promoted sergeants was selected for an unposted new position of “Gang Violence Intervention Unit.”

Now Wright is asking for injunctive action to create and implement a policy to “eliminate and prevent” any form of discrimination and retaliation.

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