Sep 21, 2022 - News

Longtime Denver officer files whistleblower complaint against agency

Illustration of red and blue spotlights moving over a police badge.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A veteran officer with the Denver Police Department has filed a whistleblower complaint against the agency for allegedly fostering a culture of discrimination and sexual harassment, CPR reports.

Why it matters: The latest discrimination complaint marks at least the second filed by a female officer in three years and suggests systemic changes are needed within the department.

Details: Sgt. Carla Havard — who has served on the force for 24 years — recently filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, marking the initial step before being granted the right to sue.

  • Havard alleges she has been treated unfairly as a Black woman, and was retaliated against after calling for an investigation into anonymous testimonies from several female officers who said they experienced unwanted sexual advances from their colleagues.
  • "My Sgt. regularly caresses and plays with my hair and rubs my back," said one anonymous testimony, which was shared during a Women's Collective meeting last September — a group DPD formed last year to improve the well-being of women officers.

What they're saying: "It pains me to be at this place, certainly in my 24th year," Havard said. "I'm not anti-police. I consider myself to be an employee that was always hopeful that things would get better. And they are, but progress doesn't mean that harm is not being created."

The other side: DPD has taken steps in recent years to improve equity, including pledging to have at least 30% of its recruit classes be women by 2030 — up from less than 20% now.

  • The agency declined to comment amid an ongoing review of the allegations.

The big picture: Discrimination and harassment have been found to be pervasive problems in police departments nationwide, with women and people of color often targeted.


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