White Police Officers Claim Discrimination

Seven police officers filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city Tuesday, alleging they were denied promotions or transfers because they are white or do not speak Spanish.

The officers say they were occasionally passed over in favor of minority candidates who had less experience, were on probation or had not applied for an open position.

"We just believe that there has been a widespread use of race as the determining factor on promotions and transfers," Rhonda Cates, the officers' attorney, told The Dallas Morning News for Wednesday's editions.

Each officer is seeking at least $1 million in damages.

City Attorney Madeleine Johnson could not comment because she had not seen the lawsuit, a city spokesman said.

Leaders of the department's minority associations said the complaints are absurd, and that there were probably other reasons why the officers were not selected.

"As the face of the department continues to change, minority officers will continue to be attacked in some sort or fashion," said Senior Cpl. George Aranda, Latino Peace Officers Association (search) president.

Sgt. Malik Aziz, president of the Texas Peace Officers Association (search), said the complaints about transfers usually happen because supervisors fail to explain why an applicant was not chosen.

"It's been common for white males on the department to allege racism or discriminatory practices given that they don't believe that any other black or Hispanic could be just as qualified or more qualified than them for a job," he said.

Police Chief David Kunkle is reviewing the department's transfer policy, a spokeswoman said.

"I think that they try to be fair with the decisions that have been made, but we know that there is a concern out there about those decisions," said Janice Houston, a police spokeswoman. "If we feel we need to make changes, then we will."

Kunkle became chief last month, taking over for Terrell Bolton, who was fired in August for poor job performance. Dallas has held the nation's highest big-city crime rate for six straight years, according to FBI statistics.