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San Jose Police Lieutenant Sues Department, City

San Jose Mercury News via YellowBrix

December 17, 2009

SAN JOSE, CA – An African-American San Jose police officer who says he was repeatedly passed over for a promotion because of racial discrimination has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Police Department, the city and Chief Rob Davis.

Glenn Harper, 48, contends that he was passed over for promotion to lieutenant for less-experienced, lower-ranked nonblack candidates by Davis, according to court documents. Harper, a 24-year San Jose Police Department veteran, also contends he has experienced ongoing retaliation from police officials after filing a complaint of race discrimination with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing in 2005.

Harper, who has taken the lieutenant’s promotional examination every other year since 2002, was promoted in February.

“The city has investigated and found no discrimination,” San Jose City Attorney Richard Doyle said. “We take lawsuits seriously, and certainly we’re going to review it and go through the process of discovery and handle it accordingly.”

Davis could not immediately be reached for comment. Police spokesman Jermaine Thomas said the department was referring all calls to the city attorney.

Harper’s attorney, Thomas Bourke, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

San Jose’s police chief has some discretion in deciding which candidates to promote, though he must follow a long-standing set of guidelines, Doyle said.

To be promoted, officers take a promotional Advertisement examination that includes a 125-question written exam and oral boards, according to Sgt. Bobby Lopez, president of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association. Candidates are then ranked based on test results and seniority, Lopez said.

As positions open, the chief is allowed to choose from a group of the highest-ranked individuals, known as the “Rule of 10,” Lopez said. For example, if there are three openings for lieutenant, the chief will be allowed to choose from the 13 highest-ranked candidates, all of whom are interviewed by a member of the command staff, Lopez said.

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