CPD officers sue for $725,000 in discrimination lawsuit against - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: CPD officers sue for $725,000 in discrimination lawsuit against Chattanooga

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Tuesday night, the city council voted unanimously to award 10 officers $725,000 which they will all split because they say they were passed up for promotions based on race.

Attorney Steve Dodson represents all of the officers' and says promotional test scores had them next in line to move up the ladder.

He says the $725,000 settlement will compensate the officers for back pay and will go toward the damage done to their careers.

 


 

After a seven-year battle, 10 Chattanooga Police officers may finally receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in a discrimination settlement.

The 10 white officers say they were passed up for promotions based on their race. Tuesday night, the city council votes on making the settlement final.

The officers are set to receive $725,000, which they will split. Their attorney says the law is clearly on his clients' side. The city says it is ready to correct the situation and move on.

The 10 officers say in 2005 they were all passed up for promotion when then-Chattanooga Police Chief, Steve Parks, lifted a temporary promotion freeze, to promote a black officer.

"The settlement's appropriate. The city needs to get it behind them. Our plaintiffs need to get it behind them," says Attorney Steve Dodson.

Dodson represents all 10 officers.      

"They would rather be policemen than plaintiffs," he says.

Dodson says at the time, all of the officers' promotional test scores had them next in line to move up the ladder. But that did not happen. He says the $725,000 settlement will compensate the officers for back pay.

"There were lost opportunities that could never be made up."

He also says it will go toward the damage done to their careers.

"They also have damage to their career path because when they were not promoted, they were not eligible to take the test for the next rank," says Dodson.

He says the case is open and shut based on similar cases across the country.

"The Supreme Court, in 2009, came out with an opinion which is identical to our case, expect it was firemen instead of policemen."

"We want to be all inclusive. And that's what we strive for," says City Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem.

Hakeem agrees, saying the battle has dragged on long enough.

"It's been troubling that it's had to go on this long," he says.

Hakeem says it is in the city's best interest to avoid a court battle.

"I think it's of benefit to the City of Chattanooga to get this behind us."

He does not foresee any issues with the council awarding the $725,000 to the officers.

"I don't know of any problems that would prevent that from happening. And I think that all of the council is of the mindset that this is something that we need to get behind us," says Hakeem.

"They just need to be compensated for their damages," says Dodson.

The Chattanooga Police department has since changed policy when it comes to promotions.

It should be noted, all of the officers were eventually promoted, expect for two. Current Chief, Bobby Dodd, who was not in charge at the time, did not want to comment on the case.

At the time of the promotion, Steve Parks was under pressure from the council to make the ranking force more diverse.

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