PLEA: Outside probe needed into alleged discrimination by police - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

PLEA: Outside probe needed into alleged discrimination by police chief

Phoenix Law Enforcement Association President Joe Clure Phoenix Law Enforcement Association President Joe Clure

The president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association has requested an outside independent investigation into what he called blatant discriminatory employment practices by several high ranking police managers, including Chief Daniel Garcia.

"There's no doubt in my mind that what occurred is a fundamental basic violation of the equal opportunity regulations," Joe Clure said. "You cannot make employment decisions that are adverse to a given employee based solely on race gender and a multitude of other factors."   

That's exactly what the union head said happened when Garcia requested race and gender be the deciding factor in the selection process for officers to go on a special detail to Washington to help with the presidential inauguration. 

"That just simply floors me," Clure said. "That people of this level on the Phoenix Police Department don't get fundamental, basic concepts of racial discrimination."  

Three white male officers who were passed over so that minorities and women would go filed a grievance when the initial list of participants was released. During the grievance process the issues were resolved, the process was revamped and the officers with seniority were chosen over race or gender factors.  

But according to Clure, that does not discount that EEO violations occurred. He and those who filed complaints believe the higher ups responsible must be held accountable.  

"Supervisors who commit EEO violations, by policy, are deemed to have committed a serious act or serious violation of policy, which is supposed to be adjudicated at a disciplinary review board for a minimum of eight to 40-hour suspension," Clure said.  

Three officers have filed EEO complaints with the city's Equal Opportunity Department. Assistant City Manager Ed Zuercher said he has confidence in the EOD and will wait to review its findings. 

"They are very experienced at doing investigations," Zuercher said. "They're an independent group. I don't have any concerns that they will feel pressure because they are professionals and they've always done a professional job for us." 

But Clure believes it's almost impossible for the EOD to be fair and impartial given the high rank of those accused. Aside from Garcia, Assistant Chief Tracey Montgomery and Commander Geary Brase were also named in the complaints.

"There is such an inherent conflict of interest there, that it only seems reasonable to me that it has to be an outside entity that does the investigation and in large part makes the recommendations for disciplines," said Clure.

Zuercher said before that is even considered, he will have to see the findings of the EOD investigation.

"The fact that we're talking, demonstrates clearly that this is going to be seen all the way through. That it's not being swept under the carpet. That we're reviewing. That we're' going to take a look at all the facts and all the information," said Zuercher.

The city leader said if the findings show discrimination, regardless of rank, action will be taken.

"We look into anybody. The policy applies to everybody and so we have to have the facts to know what happened in that case. But, yes, everyone in the city operates under the same guidelines," said Zuercher.

Clure remains skeptical.

"I do not believe the city of Phoenix, given the history that I've experienced with EEO matters, is going to be able to fairly and impartially adjudicate this situation," said Clure.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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