UPDATE: Washington Police Chief Responds To Discrimination Claim

Washington's Police Chief is back in town and responding after a former officer filed a discrimination complaint against the department.

When it comes to racism and discrimnation in the work place, Chief Mick Reed says the Washington Police Department has a "no tolerance policy."

Former Washington Police Officer Victor Garnett was fired in July. He says he was told he didn't meet department standards. But Garnett thinks he was let go because of racism.

While Chief Reed couldn't comment on Garnett's situation because of personnel issues, he says there are several policies set up so something like that doesn't happen. "We have done everything we can to ensure we have a working environment that is comfortable and purely professional and proper."

Reed tells WITN since he became chief in 2007 he's hired several minorities. But when it comes to promotions everything is not black and white. Reed says, "Hiring, recruiting is difficult regardless of cultural background, promotions are even more difficult because you don't create positions you wait until the positions are open."

Reed says his mission for the police department is simple, something he is constantly trying to achieve. "We are always actively recruiting qualified applicants. Our mission is to have a department that represents the community. That's our goal, will always be our goal."

ORIGINAL STORY:

One former Washington Police officer says he was fired because of racial issues in the department. Victor Garnett has now filed a discrimination complaint against the police department.

Garnett, who was fired in July, says he was told he wasn't up to department standards. But he doesn't believe that's the real reason why he lost his job. Garnett says, "I'm not disgruntled because I was fired, I'm disgruntled because the reason I was fired. If I was a bad police officer I wouldn't be there for one and a half years. This is a high liability job. No police officer would be able to carry a gun in the community if he wasn't competent."

Before his firing, Garnett says he filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission---claiming he was held to different standards than other officers. "You've got officers who can do no wrong and others who can do no right. Unfortunately, from my experience, African American officers have the most problems."

Washington city manager Jim Smith sent WITN a statement on Garnett's dismissal. Smith says the city has a grievance process and Garnett is free to address any concerns he may have about his employment through that process.

Garnett tells WITN the city has agreed to mediate a meeting between himself and the police department. He says he didn't just file the complaint for his own benefit, he wants the community to know what's going on too. "When you look at the Washington Police department and you have a large African American population and look at the police department and see four African American officers, it's a problem. And when you see no African American above a corporal you have one corporal, you mean to tell me out of the whole city of Washington you can't find one that can be a sergeant or lieutenant?

According to smith, there are six minority officers in the police department. The city classifies women as minorities. Three of the six are women.

The city manager told WITN he has complete confidence in Police Chief Mick Reed and the direction he's taking the police department. Smith says the police department is also working on hiring more minorities.

Chief Reed has been out of the office for the past week. We'll ask him for an interview upon his return.

CITY MANAGER'S FULL RESPONSE:

The City of Washington is committed to respecting and addressing the needs and desires of all residents of our community. In the past 3 years, the City has invested: $970,000 in housing and infrastructure improvements in distressed neighborhoods; $420,000 of Governor’s Crime Commission and US Department of Justice funds in Project Next Step, working directly with neighborhood residents; $208,000 in neighborhood park improvements; and, in cooperation with the Washington Housing Authority, $885,000 in new and rehabilitated housing and improvements in distressed neighborhoods.

With regard to the Police Department, we have complete confidence in Chief Mick Reed, and the direction in which he is leading the Washington Police Department. The City utilized a diverse selection panel and outside professional consultants to assist us in selecting Chief Reed. We believe that the police Department and the City as a whole has made steady progress in the past several years in respecting the diversity of the community in regard to hiring, promotion and retention of minority candidates and that they will continue to do so. The number of minority officers in the Police Department has increased from 4 to 6 under Chief Reed’s leadership and we are presently recruiting. We also have provided opportunities for advancement to minority officers in the past several years.

Last year the City obtained State and federal grants to assist us in implementing a community oriented policing program. This community oriented policing program was supported and promoted by local NAACP representatives, who helped formulate the program and continue to assist with the neighborhood activities of the project.

With regard to specific comments regarding Mr. Garnett, NCGS 160A-168 applies to current as well as former employees; therefore we are limited by law as to what we can say about personnel matters. The City has a grievance process. Mr. Garnett is free to address any concerns he may have about his employment or the separation of his employment through that grievance process. Mr. Garnett and any other City employee who has concerns about what they may believe is racial discrimination are also able to avail themselves of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission process, and the City is pleased to cooperate in any such process.


You must be logged in to post comments.

Username:
Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:

Read Comments

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Anonymous Location: washington on Jun 6, 2010 at 10:32 PM
    if you really want to talk about a prejudice pokice officer i pick officer paramore. he is very prejudice and should not be allowed to handle any african american matters. he is very disrespectful and needs to be removed from the police force and im not the only one that feels like that. everybody talks about him and the way he acts toward people. we need to sign a petition to get his racist tail away from duty. i hate him with a passion but wish nothing bad on him. the way he talked to me was not called for and i dont appreciate it.
  • by pete Location: grifton on Aug 25, 2009 at 11:06 AM
    He need's to apply for a job with the N.C highway patrol.they use a race quota system giving out ticket's and have to fill out a sheet showing they don't give too many ticket's to any one certain race. ask them(never mind who commits the crime),maybe they do this while hiring anyway worth a try.
  • by the whole point on Aug 21, 2009 at 03:24 PM
    the point of the accusation, i believe was to polarize black and white people and to revive an issue that can only survive on life support--its sort of like clapping if you believe in tinkerbell and she will live (racism). i dont deny it exists, but i choose to ignore it so i can look at everyone equally without fear of being judged for the color of my skin. hey what if everyone did that? no, theres got to be someone looking for a free ride via 'racism lawsuit'. and 'waiting'...of course the whole story wont come out until everyones played judge and jury, its sort of the point of having 'news' to get everyone riled up about stories so people won't forget to watch the news! and 'me', 'minorities' are just a way of saying 'you are less than a certain group of people'. some people use this as a crutch and some people 'stay down' because they think they are less. cant wait for the day when people stop caring about this crap and live their lives.
  • by Firefighters rule Location: Washington on Aug 21, 2009 at 11:51 AM
    Garnett is still mad that WFD beat the snot out of them in the last charity game. All that smack he talked got him into hot water,PLUS HE SCORED 5 POINTS. Better luck next year guys.
  • by betsey on Aug 21, 2009 at 08:25 AM
    yall people are so stupid
  • by Anonymous on Aug 20, 2009 at 08:28 PM
    Niam please tell me about "prejudice" I am waiting for you answer!
  • by S Location: Washington,NC on Aug 20, 2009 at 07:50 PM
    I do not know this officer personally,but I am very much acquainted with the Washington Police since we had an occasion to use their services this week...I must say I was very impressed with their handling of what could have been a very volatile situation and their extreme promptness in showing up as soon as the 911 call was made....the officers who arrived were totally professional & went beyond the call of duty to try & help a local business....Major Blizzard & Lt. Chrismon,many many thanks for your followup.
  • by To biker friendly on Aug 20, 2009 at 09:57 AM
    To biker friendly: This may not be an act of "prejudice" against you personally. There could have been other circumstances is why he didn't issue a citation. I urge you to research "officer's discretion?" I'll be awaiting your response.
  • by biker friendly Location: local on Aug 19, 2009 at 07:37 PM
    iwas told about this autrocity by a friend and ....well i just had to put my 2 cents in (for what it's worth)....prejudice.......the nerve of him ....i personally have met mr. garnett and had the pleasure of doing it while i laid on the side of the rode after a young woman pulled in front of me on my motorcycle.....in his own police report she admitted to pulling in front of me and so did various witnesses.....yet she wasn't charged.....and he thinks the wpd is prejudice? ...i just couldn't let this go by without voicing what this man really is ...
  • by Niam Location: Washington on Aug 19, 2009 at 07:03 PM
    Do you people think that black and white are the only races in Washington? I do not understand why it is a black and white thing? Do you think that the WPD would suspend an officer without a valid reason, just because he is black? Come on people you are much more intelligent that that! "Word on the street" is that Officer Garnett was giving people of his race breaks. Examples include letting friends drive under the influence of alcohol and or drugs (numerous times),not issuing citations to people who were involved in accidents and were clearly at fault because they were of his race and the list goes on. Guys the WPD had a valid reason for suspending Garnett ( from the word on the street) he has been controversial since employment and incompentent. WPD prejudice?? I think that he can not accept the fact that he failed the duties of a police officer and he is retaliating the only way he knows by using the Black and White thing. You people want to know about prejudice ask me!!
WITN

275 E. Arlington Blvd. Greenville, NC 27858 252-439-7777
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 53175462 - witn.com/a?a=53175462
Gray Television, Inc.