Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Burbank Police Charged With 6th Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

It’s tragic to think that to this day, a lot of people still judge others based on color and not on character. Racial discrimination, even after all the laws that have been enacted to protect people of diversity, persists to this day. Even a decorated and awarded Asian-American police detective is not spared.

Evidently, not even excellent performance can change the way some people’s minds work or eliminate hate and bigotry. Despite Dunn’s achievements and recognitions such as being awarded the Medal of Valor as a Los Angeles Police Department officer, 1999 Top Cop Award from President Bill Clinton, 2007 Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Award and the Professional Esteem Award from the Burbank City Council, he was subjected to racial taunts and discouraged from joining the narcotics unit because he was not white.

Police Detective Christopher Lee Dunn filed a civil case against the Burbank Police Department (BPD), alleging racial discrimination and retaliation before being unlawfully fired. Dunn’s lawsuit is seeking civil penalties and compensatory damages.
Dunn alleges that he experienced discouragement, racist jokes and comments, undesirable assignments and harassment despite his promotion as well as having more narcotics seizures than any other Burbank officer.

A case in 2007 against him was filed but later on recanted. Nevertheless, Dunn was first transferred to another unit and then placed on paid administrative leave. He was later on fired on charges that he interfered with the investigation and for insubordination.

Dunn is the sixth officer to come forward about the BPD’s treatment, just last May, five Burbank police officers also sued the department for allowing a work environment where discrimination and sexual harassment is rampant.

The six officers who complained that slurs about race, ethnicity and sexual preferences were constantly directed at them, their colleagues, suspects and the public at large. One female officer was also reportedly threatened with anal sex as punishment.

What’s more repulsive and disturbing about the entire lawsuit filed is the fact that police officers are supposed to serve and protect – but how can they truly serve and protect if they see color and not people?

One of the laws these police officers have been sworn to uphold is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law protects individuals against employment discrimination on the bases of race and color, as well as national origin, sex, and religion.

Title VII prohibits not only intentional discrimination, but also practices that have the effect of discriminating against individuals because of their race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.

Despite being law enforcers, police officers are not the law. And they should do their best to uphold and respect the law especially when it comes to treating everybody, regardless of race, creed or color, the respect and dignity that they deserve.