During her five years with the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, Tiara Brown said she got firsthand experience with its culture of intimidation, reports NBC News. In one such instance, she said she reported what she believed to be an illegal stop and frisk to a superior.
Plainclothes officers from another unit approached a group of young Black men in an area she policed, lined them up against a gate and started emptying their pockets without any radio call prompting them to do so. Brown believed that the incident was unlawful and reported it to a female lieutenant.
The lieutenant asked Brown to write a formal statement and told her that the officers involved were going to be told who reported them. She then asked Brown if she still wanted to go ahead with a formal complaint, which Brown said she interpreted as a warning to keep silent.
So she did. Brown said the department’s rules and policies require that the lieutenant escalate, rather than quash, her complaint.
This account is one of many allegations laid out in a more than 250-page class-action lawsuit filed last week on behalf of Brown and nine other Black women, both former and current employees, against the Metropolitan Police Department. The women allege that they were discriminated against because of their race and gender, and that the division in charge of addressing such behaviors is run by a man who has repeatedly expressed hostility toward female officers and colluded with management to discredit women who come forward.
Three of the complainants, Sinobia Brinkley, Regenna Grier and Tabatha Knight, say they were forced out. Five others, Leslie Clark, Tamika Hampton, Chanel Dickerson, Karen Carr and LaShaun Lockerman, are still on the force. Kia Mitchell, who joined the force in 1989, retires this week. Brown resigned in December 2020.
“While we cannot discuss the specific allegations due to pending litigation, the Metropolitan Police Department is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout our organization,” Alaina Gertz, a police spokesperson, said in a statement. “We take these allegations seriously and we will be reviewing them thoroughly and responding accordingly.”