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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

White Cops Head to Trial With Biased Testing Suit

(CN) - A trial is necessary to determine whether the San Francisco Police Department's promotion testing favors black and Asian cops, a federal judge ruled.

SFPD lieutenants Heinz Hofmann and Thomas Buckley, both of whom are white, sued the City and County of San Francisco and former San Francisco Police Department Chiefs George Gascon and Jeffrey Godown in 2011 for alleged violations of their civil rights and California State law.

The SFPD had posted a notice four years earlier stating that it was seeking applicants to promote to captain. The notice stated applicants would take a test and those who scored the highest would be put on a list for promotion consideration.

When the city posted the results in 2008, it vowed to use only the highest ranking scores to fill the first 11 vacancies. For the next openings, the department said it would implement a new selection process that considers the officers who achieved ranks 16 through 28 and would treat their exam scores "as functionally equivalent, without regard to exactly where each score falls within that range."

Neither Hofmann and Buckley received a promotion.

In their complaint, the officers allege the city decided to change its promotion criteria so that more blacks and Asians would serve as captains.

They claim that they were "objectively more qualified, based on secondary criteria, than any of the blacks or Asians promoted below them from the 2007 List."

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken denied either side summary judgment on Dec. 20, slating the case for trial this spring.

Ulitmately none of the parties have provided enough evidence to support their claims.

"In any event, plaintiffs are not entitled to summary judgment on any of their claims for the same reason that defendants are not entitled to summary judgment: namely, several disputes of material fact remain," the 18-page ruling states.

The court will hold a pretrial conference at 2 p.m. on April 23.

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