A group of 10 former and current black female police officers, including 2019 “Cop of the Year” Tiara Brown and Assistant Chief Chanel Dickerson, has sued the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department over claims of racial and sexual discrimination.
According to the class action lawsuit filed on Wednesday, the police department enabled a “culture of intimidation” and actively worked to discredit the women’s claims instead of punishing the behavior of those responsible.
Former “Cop of the Year” Tiara Brown said that she was “relentlessly bullied after expressing her concerns about the ‘racist and sexist’ behavior of some of her fellow officers in the department,” which later forced her to resign.
Fellow former officers Sinobia Brinkley, Regenna Grier, Tabatha Knight, and Kia Mitchell, are also listed in the lawsuit, claiming that they also resigned from the Metropolitan Police Department over racist and sexist workplace environments.
When Kia Mitchell reported that a male officer once took out his penis and urinated in the van that she and many other male officers were traveling in, the department refused to reprimand him.
“I was so afraid to come forward with it because I just knew they were going to take my contract or not renew my contract,” former officer Kia Mitchell told reporters on Wednesday.
The attorneys for the Tiara Brown and Chanel Dickerson, who helped file the class-action lawsuit, added that the male officer was instead promoted shortly after the incident.
Former office Tabatha Knight, another plaintiff in the lawsuit, alleged that she was forced out after reporting that some of the other officers were altering arrest records to make it seem like their patrolled areas were more dangerous, and that their arrests were more heroic.
Knight also listed reports she heard from other female officers of male officers sexually assaulting women by “forcibly putting his tongue in her mouth,” or “taking his hand and grabbing her buttocks as he walked by,” which all went completely unpunished.
Along with former officers such as Tiara Brown and Chanel Dickerson, many active police officers are also listed in the lawsuit.
Plaintiff Sergeant Tamika Hampton, who filed despite remaining an active member of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Force, said that “Even though [the departments] say that retaliation is not tolerated, it actually is,” adding that “It’s just covered up.”
Active officers Karen Carr, Lieutenant LaShaun Lockerman, and Leslie Clark, are the other three plaintiffs that remain part of the police force.
According to the lawsuit, Officer Leslie Clark claimed that one of her fellow officers once showed her a picture of a gun and said that that was the gun they were going to use to assassinate former first lady Michelle Obama. Officer Clark said that after she reported the incident, her husband, a fellow officer, had to help her on the job because other officers would not respond to her calls.
“It was basically instant retaliation for complaining,” attorney Pam Kieth explained. “Even worse… In four years, the MPD [Equal Employment Office] (EEO) Department did not substantiate a single claim of race or gender discrimination.”
“This case is about four systemic characteristics of the MPD that have combined to make it a toxic workplace for Black women officers,” Kieth told reporters in a news release. “1) a culture of disrespect and bullying behavior, 2) an acceptance of abuse of power by management employees, 3) a corrupt and dysfunctional EEO Office, and 4) a practice of unleashing retaliatory campaigns to push out officers who dare speak up or oppose misconduct or discrimination.”
In a response to NBC News, the D.C. Police Department stated that they could not discuss the allegations at this time. They also maintain the belief that, “the Metropolitan Police Department is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout our organization.”