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Video: 28 African-American Memphis Officers Face Demotion

January 23, 2015  | 

VIDEO: 28 African-American Memphis Officers Face Demotion

Twenty-eight African-American Memphis police officers could be demoted and required to return back-pay after a recent appeals court ruling.

Fifteen years ago, the officers won a lawsuit against City of Memphis that found promotion tests were discriminatory toward African-Americans and women. A judge agreed and those officers were promoted.

Now, a new court decision could change that.

"The possibility exists for demotions," said City of Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little. "Received word that the Supreme Court is not going to hear the appeal in the case of the 28 officers."

The officers sued the city in 2000. After a federal judge sided with the officers, the city appealed to a higher court. The appeals court sided with the city.

The officers then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the city says the Supreme Court is now choosing not to take up the case. The case will revert back to the most recent ruling.

By mid-February, the city expects to lower the officers' pay and rank. Some of those officers are now majors and lieutenants in the police department.

"You're talking about people who have 20 plus years and have given outstanding service to this city," said Afro American Police Association (AAPA) spokesman Tyrone Curry.


Comments (13)

Displaying 1 - 13 of 13

J. Davenport @ 1/24/2015 10:09 AM

My early years in policing saw Affirmative Action and that was a nightmare, as I saw people both hired and promoted that should never have been police in the first place. I am not prejudiced, but Affirmative Action affected me and others who got higher test scores, etc. and were passed over. I don't know why these officers felt that the first test was unfair, but they initially won their cases. I don't think it makes sense that if they are demoted in rank that they should have to return back pay. They would already be hurt and embarrassed by the demotion after serving the City. I am not one for kicking a person when they're already down.

alec moffat, Ph.D @ 1/24/2015 11:03 AM

Where is all of this shit coming from???? I'm not black & not a LEO. What's with this wedge that is being driven between PDs and the civilian community? I mean, it is being done intentionally! WHY? I've got thoughts. Who are the race baiters today? Who would benefit from "Cops versus Civilians", or "Black Cops versus their community? or just white/Black. On top of my head, Obama who Needs a divided society to engage his tyrannical ideas, (a private army etc. He is already down on Vets. Sharpton is/was paid far more than a million $$$ to stir up racial division. How muvh $$ do you have to MAKE to OWE $4.5 million in BACK TAXES. I wish I made that kind of $$$. I'd have paid the tax. DOES YOUR PASTOR GET PAID ENOUGH TO OWE THAT KIND OF MONEY? If you get bored, look at all of Obama's appointments to very high positions, then look at their Surnames. Example, the Director of Homeland Sec., a disproportionate number of Arabs (muslims?)

SnowCop @ 1/24/2015 12:39 PM

Rank should be earned based off a persons leadership abilities. Written testing is not the best way to determine the best person for the job. I think the MPD should look at each person that was promoted as a result of the lawsuit and determine whether they deserve to be in their current position based on their job performance and most importantly, how the subordinate ranks feel about them as a leader.
If they are lousy, demote them and allow them the opportunity to earn their position.

Leonard Mather @ 1/24/2015 3:33 PM

In my field (Forensic Psychology) this is called a Double Approach Avoidance Conflict. In a bar room it is called "Damned if you do and damned if you don't," and it is also called "caught between a rock and a hard place" because SOMEONE is going to feel injured, mistreated or handled unfairly. Such situations are fertile ground for the Al Sharptons and the Jesse Jacksons. And when race enters the picture, it is open season to play race cards, call out prejudice and create stories about fixes, hidden agendas and hoopla. God forbid that the rule of law, based on logic be applied seeking Truth and Justice.

TERRY @ 1/24/2015 4:44 PM

I don't care what color your skin is if you do the job the way it is supposed to be done then quit the political stuff. These officers have done the job and should remain where they are at. If performance is a question then yes and all disciplinary procedures are followed.

Mark Tarte @ 1/25/2015 8:18 AM

MPD is in a no-win situation. That said, what are the political ramifications with the greater community if they demote all 28? What are the ramifications internally? Did all 28 benefit from an easier test? What about the ones who have proven themselves effective leaders? Probably the best thing to do is to alert each one that for future promotions, they take the same test. But to demote AND demand back pay? No. That just adds insult to injury.

Rob @ 1/25/2015 10:19 AM

What about compensating the cops who did NOT get promoted years ago when this group did? Will they be getting back pay?

sherry @ 1/26/2015 3:33 AM

It is the oldest strategy in the world ** ALERT** IT IS CALLED DIVIDE AND CONQUER. Not only do they want public against police, Republican against Democrats, pro life against abortion, and black against white, it is to keep us (WE THE PEOPLE) fighting against one another so we are not capable of standing together. Open your eyes people, Please

Debby Jenkins @ 1/26/2015 5:00 AM

I agree with SnowCop. Testing is not the best way to promote. Leadership ability and performance are the only way to go. I know a lot of people who are good test takers but crappy supervisors. I don't care what color you are, if you can do the job, then do it. Taking away their rank now is going to be detrimental to the department as a whole, not just the individuals involved. It took me 22 years to get to my current rank but I have the support of those who serve under me because they know I can do the job and have been doing it for several years. I hope that the powers that be really consider what effect this will have on their department.

Indydep @ 1/26/2015 5:40 AM

I want to know where do we draw the line. I am a firm believer that you work speaks for itself. However, if you don't address of this issue in a way that is fair to all, then how do we proceed? Nobody wants to be a token, but we all want to be treated fairly. If you test poorly or if you don't meet the standards then those are some areas in which you need to improve, however afford me a fair oppurtunity to when I do meet the mark.

Allen @ 1/26/2015 6:07 AM

If you can do the job it should not matter who you are, what color your skin is, what country you come from or what church you go to, period. However, if you get promoted simply because of one of these areas, that is wrong. In many cases affirmative action lowered the bar instead of increasing the quality opportunities for minorities. And now some department and people are going to pay the price. Don't say we didn't see this coming. This whole issue was handled incorrectly when affirmative action became the big thing. We need to give everyone the same education, training and promotional opportunities from the beginning. If you don't meet the required criteria for promotion, you don't get promoted.

Richard Hightower @ 1/26/2015 6:13 AM

I am ten years out of law enforcement now. But I definately remember the "bad ol days" of Affirmative Action. I can understand the position of the city demoting and demanding returen of pay. In my own experience, those that took advantage of Affirmative Action in instances of promotion and pay, generally pushed a Progressive / Socialists agenda that was highly disruptive and detramental to the department I worked for and for Policing in general. The measures necessary to push these people out after having been impropery implaced and esconced can seem sever.

edward smart @ 1/27/2015 12:04 PM

These Officers should not have to return the back pay which was at the time collected legally through a court order.

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