2 officers sue Brookline PD, claiming racial discrimination

BROOKLINE, MASS. (WHDH) - Two Brookline police officers sued the department, making claims of racial discrimination.

The two officers, who are black, cited a hostile work environment. They said their coworkers used racial slurs and used deferential treatment against them because of their race. The officers also claim the town refused to investigate previous accusations of racial discrimination.

“When such complaints are made, they are swept under the rug; and that individuals who complain about racial discrimination are ostracized and subjected to retaliation,” said one of the officers in a statement.

An attorney on the case said out of approximately 130 police officers in Brookline, only about six are black. All supervising officers are white.

The town of Brookline released a statement Monday:

The Town cares about Officer Zerai-Misgun and Officer Pilot, their safety and their dignity.    Chief of Police Daniel O’Leary has been working diligently to resolve this situation with both officers’ concerns being addressed, enabling them to go back to work in a manner in which they are comfortable.  We had hoped that they could be addressed through mediation.   In the wake of those concerns, the Town commissioned two independent investigations: one a comprehensive review of the racial climate within the Brookline Police Department, and the other an investigation of the incidents associated with the officers’ complaints.  These months-long outside reviews were aimed at assessing and addressing concerns of discrimination and exclusion within the department.  Those findings determined, in part, that no hostile racial climate or culture of racism exists in the Brookline Police Department.  However, Chief O’Leary has undertaken and implemented a number of steps to help foster a more cohesive work environment.  Regarding the court complaint, we fully anticipate that the Town and Chief O’Leary will be cleared in the complaint of any wrongdoing.

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