PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Four black police officers and their fraternal organization sued the city on Monday claiming they were discriminated against and subject to a litany of hostile acts after they refused to carry out unlawful orders intended to "flip" those arrested on narcotics charges.
In a federal lawsuit filed in Philadelphia, the plaintiff officers say that in March 2017, two white men, Anthony Boyle and Raymond Evers, were made the commanding officers of the city police department's narcotics bureau, and they promptly called a bureau-wide meeting to outline their policies.
The plaintiffs claim that during the meeting, they were ordered to falsify property and chain of custody records on drugs, money and other evidence if arrestees' on drug charges were willing to flip and testify against others.
The plaintiff officers say they were also directed not to put arrestees' names on records documents until it was clear whether they'd flip or not.
The plaintiffs say they refused to follow these orders because they would have called into question the integrity of evidence, the validity of prosecutions, credibility of narcotics officers, and placed arrestees' constitutional rights at serious risk.
Each of the plaintiff officers claim that after their refusal to follow the orders, they were subjected to pervasive hostility from their superiors and fellow officers.
For instance, Debra Frazier, an inspector with the Philadelphia police department, claims her commanding officers have repeatedly threatened to change the lock on her office door, nitpicked her work and reports, and ordered her to discipline subordinates for no valid reason.
Another plaintiff, Captain Laverne Vann, says she was ordered to undergo bike patrol training despite the fact she told her superiors she never learned how to ride a bicycle. Vann says during this training, she fell from a bicycle and was injured so badly she was hospitalized for several days and ultimately had to go on medical leave.
The other plaintiffs claim they were subjected to similarly frustrating treatment, including having false accusations aimed at them regarding their use of department vehicles and equipment, and having their requests for overtime work turned down.
But all of these things were mild compared to the racially hostile environment their commanding officers fosters, the plaintiffs say.
According to the complaint, Boyle and Evers allowed a corporal to display a Confederate flag on his vehicle in view of other officers while at work.
The plaintiffs also claim their commanding officers regularly referred to blacks and other minorities by offensive names, like "scum," and referred to killing members of the minority community as "thinning the herd."
The aggrieved officers also assert that black officers are far more likely to be given dangerous assignments than their white colleagues.
The plaintiffs seek a declaration that the policies of the city and its police department are unlawful and discriminatory, and unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Troy Brown, spokesman for the Philadelphia Police Department, declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing the fact the litigation is ongoing. A spokesperson for the city did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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