Black Law Enforcement Officers Respond To Racially-Divisive Treatment of Black Women
The Board of Directors and General Membership of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc., express their support and solidarity with Sergeants Danika Yampierre, Jasmin Rowlett, Tashawna Gaines and Welai Grant in their search for justice within the Baltimore, MD Police Department. As a premier national organization representing the interests and concerns of African American, Latino and other criminal justice practitioners of color serving in law enforcement, corrections, and investigative agencies throughout the United States, and the communities in which they serve, we find it to be abhorrent and unfortunate that the administration of the Baltimore Police Department has chosen to disregard their reported concerns of systemic racism, harassment, retaliation and other specific discriminatory acts directed toward African American female police officers employed by the agency.
The strategies used to discriminate against Black police officers have, unfortunately, existed throughout the history of their involvement in the criminal justice profession. There is hardly any doubt that this discrimination has been extensive, and in many cases, still exists today. For Black female officers, in the traditionally White-male dominated field of policing, the combination of their race and gender statuses leads to both unique problems and perspectives.
Thus, the federal litigation being filed by these four women, which comes on the heels of a similar complaint filed by 10 former and current Black female officers in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department, presents no specific or particular surprise to Black law enforcement officers. Black officers know only too well the issues of systemic racism, bigotry, retaliation, and undue disciplinary action within agencies whose white-male dominated culture condones and perpetuates demeaning, degrading and disrespectful discourse and actions by and between officers. The mere fact of its filing would seem to provide further evidence of an ongoing pattern, practice and custom of supervisory approval of abuse, intimidation and denigration of Black female police officers, actions that have apparently been ignored or encouraged by Baltimore police and city administrators.
The lack of organizational action on what has been reported to be many and varied complaints, can only be viewed as active, systemic racism and deliberate indifference, and shows a further continuing failure to adequately address issues specific to Black female members within the Baltimore Police Department, with these attitudes apparently having festered both individually and collectively for several years. In fact, the courts have determined as early as 1979 that the agency has treated female officers discriminately. Further, what appears to be administrative indifference to resolving an obvious racially biased atmosphere indicates that any expressed initiatives towards community policing or stated commitments to agency diversity may be nothing more than “public speak” and have little or no true substance.
The plight of these four women is just another glaring example of how female officers, and particularly Black females, are treated in their constant and continuous battle to gain respect and dignity in a White male-dominated atmosphere. Their claims of being treated with contempt and subjected to a male-dominated "culture of race and sex discrimination" and "intense pervasive retaliation" when they complained about the treatment should be no surprise when one considers the culture of policing in America.
The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc, a 501.(c).(3) non-profit, is a premier national organization representing the interests and concerns of African American, Latino and other criminal justice practitioners of color serving in law enforcement, corrections, and investigative agencies throughout the United States, and the communities in which they serve.