A Tacoma police lieutenant has sued the city, contending he has been repeatedly passed over for promotion because he is black.
LeRoy Standifer, who joined the department in 1985 and became a lieutenant in 2003, lists three examples of being passed over for promotion to captain despite having more experience, training and education than those chosen over him.
“Under Police Chief Don Ramsdell, the department’s promotions have exhibited racial bias,” Seattle attorney Alex J. Higgins wrote in the lawsuit.
It notes 10 people have been promoted to captain or a higher rank in the past 15 years, but none was black. City officials confirmed that is accurate.
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Standifer said he didn’t complain in the past when passed over for promotion, but was frustrated in October when his supervisor and others told him a colleague would be promoted for an upcoming position opening rather than Standifer.
The lieutenant and his attorney contend the decision to promote Standifer’s colleague was unfair and against department policy.
Lieutenants who want to be promoted to captain take an oral civil service exam and are ranked. The chief then can choose the person to promote from among the top five candidates.
Candidates also are interviewed by the department’s three assistant chiefs, who make a recommendation to the chief on whom to promote.
Standifer’s supervisor and others talked about his colleague being made a captain before those interviews took place, the suit alleges.
The top five candidates for captain at that time included two white men, two black men and a Polynesian man.
A white lieutenant was promoted, although he had been with the department nine years less than Standifer and was a lieutenant eight years less than Standifer.
Standifer said he has no record of wrongdoing or discipline throughout his career and regularly receives marks on his performance reviews of “meets” or “exceeds standards.”
The city has a policy of not responding to litigation.
Higgins filed the lawsuit Tuesday. Standifer also has filed a complaint with the city’s Equal Employment Office.
“Tacoma has had more than two months to take action in response to the complaint, but has failed to take adequate remedial measures and failed to properly investigate or provide updates to Lt. Standifer, as policy requires,” according to the lawsuit.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653