To young Black women who want to become police officers,
All of us were once just like you.
Regenna Grier was working at a hospital when she witnessed a baby pass away because of neglect. She wanted to become a police officer because she wanted to save the babies.
Kia Mitchell came from a family affiliated with the police department. At 12 years old, she started to volunteer. When she finished college, she knew she wanted to continue to serve the community.
Karen Carr grew up in the Commonwealth of Virginia. She remembers as a teenager driving in a nice car and getting pulled over despite not doing anything wrong.
The cop asked her, “Where did you get this car? Did you steal it? Is this your car?”
She wanted to be a police officer to try and bring fairness and equality to the force.
We were all once young women who became officers for the same reason you want to become an officer. And that is because we wanted to help people.
Throughout our careers, sadly, each one of us has experienced struggle, hurt, and frustration. Some of us have nightmares, and some of us are in therapy. Some of us have lost our hair, and some of us have feared for our safety.
Our stress is not from our work in the streets, but rather our experiences inside the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
As a group of ten Black former and current female officers, we are coming together and filing a class-action lawsuit against the MPD, alleging a pattern of system-wide race and gender discrimination and a culture of bullying and unlawful retaliation.
You already know what they do and will call us:
Crazy, angry Black women.
When people say that, they are trying to break our spirit, but instead, they are fueling our fight. We are speaking up, and we are telling our stories.
In our lawsuit complaint we share many allegations. Here are just a few:
Leslie Clark alleges in the complaint that another officer threatened to kill Michelle Obama. She says he showed her a picture of the gun on his phone, and she reported him to internal affairs. It leaked that she reported the threat and she alleges she was shunned by her peers. After the incident, officials allegedly started giving her different and undesirable assignments.
Officers Sinobia Brinkley (retired) and Kia Mitchell allege they were each assigned old K-9 cruisers that were covered in dog hair and dander, along with numerous spiders and insects. Both women asked for their cars to be sent to the MPD shop for detailing. They allege the cars were not actually cleaned, as the insecticide killed the spiders, but did not kill the fleas. Despite available clean vehicles, Brinkley and Mitchell allege that it took several complaints to be assigned new vehicles.
In 2002, Grier arrested and testified against a fellow police officer, who was operating his police cruiser while intoxicated. She says she made the arrest because a witness called 911, observing his erratic driving. After the incident, Grier alleges officers refused to provide her back up on the job.
Tamika Hampton, who has been on the force for nearly 18 years, alleges in the complaint that she was sexually harassed on her third day of work. She was 21 years old when an officer allegedly tried to date her and threatened to make her career miserable when she attempted to dismiss his advances. She went to the EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity), where she alleges they told her there were insufficient facts and the claim was unfounded.
Enough is enough.
The MPD is one of the most diverse police departments in the country, but diversity does not equate to inclusion.
We are seeking $100 million in damages, but more importantly, together, we are fighting for change. In our lawsuit we ask for a culture change. We want the abuse of power to stop. We want an effective EEO office instead of one that we allege invalidates and attacks the credibility of anyone who files a complaint. We want policies in place that will hold upper management accountable, so they can’t and won’t retaliate against officers who speak up.
We are not crazy, angry Black women, and we do not have an attitude. We have a VOICE. We are resilient, strong, and courageous.
As we fight against a powerful system, we hope all of you will call your local officials, write emails, and speak out on social media, demanding the MPD treat Black women fairly, respectfully, and with dignity. More than ever, we need the power of the people to help us make change happen.
We are risking our livelihoods, our reputations, and so much more to stand up for ourselves, each other, and you. But it is worth it.
We want you, young Black women, to know that you have the right to do what you want to do. If you want to be a sergeant, lieutenant, captain, or whatever, go for it! Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not worthy because you’re Black or a female. Always believe in yourself and support each other.
While we all started our careers just like you, we are fighting with all we have to ensure your experiences are nothing like ours.