Three Black detectives from New York, who filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the NYPD’s Intel Division, claiming their credentials for promotion were ignored to give favor to their white colleagues, have finally received a $700,000 settlement after two years.
The detectives, Jon McCollum and Roland Stephens, who are now retired, and Theodore Coleman, who is now deceased, accused the division’s commanding chief, Chief Thomas Galati, and his predecessor, former Deputy Commissioner David Cohen, of systemic discrimination.
Last week, the three detectives were awarded the $700,000 settlement which includes back pay and damages to account for their loss of reputation. Coleman’s wife, Sara, represents her deceased husband’s stake in the matter.
The lawsuit claimed that Galati and Cohen, who were both white, bypassed them in order to promote their white colleagues who were deemed less qualified than them.
“In spite of their proven track records of achievement and strong recommendations from their direct supervisors, they were repeatedly passed up for promotion due to their race. More than one supervisor who recommended them said that if they had been white then they would have been promoted,” the men wrote in the lawsuit.
Moreover, the results of a 5-year investigation included in the 2016 report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stated that there was a “wholly subjective and secret process (that) operates without any structured guidelines.” It became a crucial piece of evidence that supported the claims of the detectives, even though the Department of Justice didn’t use it to sue NYPD beforehand.
Meanwhile, the NYPD said the settlement does not equate to an admission of guilt and maintained that there was no racial discrimination within the agency.
An NYPD spokeswoman said, “The NYPD, as well as DOJ, over the course of years, carefully reviewed statistical and other evidence on promotions and diversity within the Intelligence Bureau. Race discrimination is not a factor in the promotional process. Discretionary promotions are based on a number of considerations which may include time, grade and performance. The city made a practical decision to settle this case with no admission of wrongdoing on the part of the NYPD, and with claims against all NYPD officials dismissed.”
However, a source who works for the Intel said otherwise. He told New York Daily News that all who worked for Galati were white and they get promoted except the three detectives “because they weren’t ‘friends of Galati.’ If you’re not a ‘friend of Galati’s,’ he doesn’t take care of you.”
Their lawyer, Elizabeth Saylor, said that the settlement brought about a mixture of happiness as well as disappointment. She said, “The detectives are happy with the result which finally recognized their years of exemplary service at the NYPD. They are disappointed that the NYPD still refuses to reform its secret, standard-less promotions process.”