DENVER (KDVR) — A new Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint was filed this week by a Denver police sergeant alleging discrimination based on race, retaliation, sex and even disability.
The 30-page complaint is coming from Sgt. Carla Havard, a 24-year-veteran of the department, who sat down with FOX31’s Joshua Short.
“You are in full gear, you still love your job?” Short asked Havard.
“I do, I absolutely love my job,” she responded, in spite of what she claims in the complaint against her employer, alleging discrimination based on retaliation, race, sex and disability.
“This isn’t just about me, this is much larger than just me,” Havard said.
The retaliation against Havard began late last year, during a meeting intended to advance gender inclusion at the Denver Police Department, according to the complaint. During that meeting, she publicly called for an investigation of her fellow officers after numerous, anonymous complaints from other DPD employees were revealed to those in the room.
They included instances of microaggressions, derogatory language, inappropriate remarks and even inappropriate touching by superiors.
“Policing is about power and privilege,” Havard said, adding, “Who wants to give that up? Who wants to change and give up the power they have over someone? No one does. But as more calls for accountability comes to light, more things are revealed.”
Havard said blowing the whistle resulted in her seeing a shift in duties, and even being placed on a Performance Improvement Plan this year.
“There was no improvement ever given, so I thought what was the true purpose of that plan? It was to smear me, it was to silence me,” Havard said.
“According to the complaint, 23 out of 1,435 police officers identify as Black women. Only 100 for Black males.
As president of the Black Officers Organization, Havard says these steps are necessary.
“Progress is often made out of casualty,” Havard said.
She looks to continue serving, despite the rhetoric surrounding a painful pattern.
“My moving forward with this complaint is going to make it safer, for women, especially minority women … in these institutions that are rooted in these disparities, it’s going to make them a lot safer,” she said.
DPD declined to comment since this is a pending complaint; however, they do say they’ve taken “a number of strides in recent years” to improve equity including more training and policies. They listed 10 for us, including creating a bureau to promote diversity and equality, starting a racial and Social justice Academy and launching a program to involve the community’s perspectives with DPD.
Here’s the department’s full statement:
The Denver Police Department will respectfully decline commenting on the pending complaint.
Relevant background information:
The Denver Police Department has taken a number of strides in recent years to improve internal and external equity practices. They include implementing many trainings and policies within the department.
- The creation of the DPD S.L.I.D.E. Bureau (Shared Leadership for Institutional Diversity and Equity)
- Racial and Social Justice Academy (flyer attached above)
- A number of community academies. These involve community members sharing their perspectives and experiences with DPD. This creates a learning environment and positive interaction for officers and residents. These academies include a Spanish-speaking Community Academy and Women’s Community Academy.
- Creation of the Women’s Collective
- 30 by 30 – A recruiting initiative with the goal of having at least 30% of our officers be female by the year 2030
- Instituting respectful workplace training
- Work with the Mayor’s Office of Social Equity and Innovation to develop an Equity Action Plan
- When recruits graduate the Academy, they now must attend an 8-hour cultural awareness training
- Creation of an Asian Community Outreach Hotline to help communicate issues within that community
- Providing ABLE (Active Bystander for Law Enforcement) training to all officers.
This is not every one of the steps taken recently, but gives you an idea of the direction the department is heading.
The Department of Safety EEO policy can be found on page 374, Section 117.05, in the DPD Operations Manual.