CBC Requests Ethnic Breakdown of Capitol Police

Posted November 21, 2003 at 5:53pm

The Congressional Black Caucus has requested a report from the Capitol Police Department detailing the agency’s demographics.

CBC officials asked for the report at a Wednesday meeting with Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer, held at the caucus’ request after attorneys representing more than 350 current and former officers called off settlement negotiations of their class-action discrimination suit, citing numerous disagreements with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which represents the Capitol Police Board.

The lawsuit — filed against the agency in 2001 by members of the U.S. Capitol Black Police Association who allege that the department denied promotions to, retaliated against, unfairly disciplined or fired black officers — is scheduled to go before U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Dec. 5. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed a motion to dismiss the case.

CBC officials met with Gainer, an aide to one Member noted, “to provide assistance in bringing this matter to a close.”

The Members “urged the chief to be candid with them. Obviously there are some things they cannot discuss because the matter has not been brought to a close, but they really wanted an opportunity to hear from the chief,” the aide said.

Through a spokeswoman, Gainer said, “It was a very good meeting,” but declined to comment further.

CBC officials expect to receive the detailed list of officers employed by the department in the next several weeks. Gainer “mentioned that he would provide the caucus with an up-to-date list of all the officers who currently serve — their position, their rank, their ethnicity — so that members would have a more accurate way to judge if this is truly a diverse work force, if African-Americans seem to be promoted at the same rate as others,” the aide said.

Caucus members questioned Gainer about the settlement negotiations, specifically the issue of compensation. In initial negotiations, the black officers’ attorneys requested $73 million, to be divided among class members and attorneys’ fees.

“Members were disappointed that settlement discussions had broken off over the issue of compensation,” Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.) said.

Wynn said Gainer told CBC members the department had “reviewed 46 cases and didn’t find any that they think merited compensation.”

That explanation did not sit well with several lawmakers, including Wynn, who called the results of the review “incredulous” and added: “You just don’t have this many complaints, a class this large and not have some validity.”

The meeting also touched on adding new diversity training programs, in addition to those already provided by the Capitol Police to current officers, new recruits and civilian employees.

“The chief is very involved with diversity training,” said a police spokeswoman, noting Gainer’s role in designing a program run by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and administered to both Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department.