I am…I am the pariah, the black sheep, the red-headed step-child, the banished, the lunatic, and the ousted; the cautionary tale, the leper, the dangerous mental case, the unhinged psycho, weak, excluded from the boys club, ostracized, boycotted, shut out, distasteful.  I became contagious, inconvenient, unfriended, cut off, thrown away, tossed out the back into the alley; blacklisted, outlawed, dismissed, swept aside, and smeared.

I am vilified, cut, exiled, torpedoed, abolished, and nullified. I was bad mouthed, mocked, disparaged, maligned, defamed, denigrated, slandered, and interrogated in depositions and on the stand, publicly humiliated and so were my children.  I must say, it pissed me off so I fought back.  And I wasn’t alone.  I am not alone now.  This fight has continued for 17 years.

​I AM STRONG, forged in fire, resilient, smart, and tough. I refused to quit I refused to be railroaded and permanently labeled as defective, or in their words a “paranoid personality unfit for duty.”  They were lying.  They were wrong.  They lost.

This is what happened to me when I spoke up.

How many of you can say #METOO ?


With Rank Comes Privilege: With Privilege, Power. Part 1

ABSTRACT (from my book in progress)

 Police departments are complex political organizations.  Policing has evolved from its early days where politicians hired their friends and supporters as “enforcers”.  The rise of professionalism has changed how selections are made.  Most departments do their best to hire and retain the best qualified individuals who are least likely to have or cause future problems.  Pre-employment testing is used to determine which candidates will be successful as a Law Enforcement Officer. This system is flawed and cannot predict how the job influences impressionable young people. Many new hires are fairly young, sometimes 18 years of age. When you give someone without a fully developed personality, a badge, a gun and power, it can go to their heads. Some do not understand the serious responsibility and enjoy the power they have over the lives of others. This can lead to the misuse of this power by some of these individuals. If the behavior is not discovered and addressed early on citizens are abused. When this behavior is encouraged or reinforced through corporate culture then they abuse their co-workers.  As they get promoted their position offers them insulation from discipline. The saying at the P.D. was “With rank comes privilege.” Bad things happen when bad people are in charge, but if you speak up worse things happen.

What is my book about?


Case 1:  2001       Gender discrimination case filed in State Court. There were 14 Plaintiffs, Only a couple plaintiff’s had sexual harassment claims

Case 2:  2002       Retaliation/civil rights violations filed in Federal Court/2 plaintiffs (Patricia/Renee’).



Discrimination: Differential treatment, a failure to treat all persons equally when no reasonable distinction can be found between those favored and those not favored (Black’s Law Dictionary) Proofs = adverse job action(s), and we all had them.

Sexual Harassment: A type of employment discrimination consisting of verbal or physical abuse of a sexual nature (Black’s Law Dictionary).

Retaliation: A discharge (or firing) made in retaliation for an employee’s conduct (such as reporting unlawful activity)/discharge for reasons that are illegal or violate public policy.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Federal law prohibiting employment discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, sex, pregnancy, religion, and national origin, as well as prohibiting retaliation against an employee who opposes illegal harassment or discrimination in the workplace (Black’s Law Dictionary).


Mark Baker wrote a book titled “Cops.”  When I read it I was struck by an observation: Baker says “In any department, anywhere, you can take 5 percent of the cops and they will be honest under any circumstances and they’ll never do anything wrong. They are the priests of the department. 5 percent on the other end of the spectrum would have been criminals had they not become policemen. They are in fact, criminals who happen to be cops. The remaining 90 percent will go whichever way the peer pressure goes” (Baker, 1985).  I have found this to be fairly accurate in my experience.

This phenomenon, speaks to Privilege.  Privilege?  What does that mean?  As a country we have had many conversations about privilege. Sometimes the conversations come in the form of protests, civil disobedience or legal wrangling.  We have come a long way, but not far enough.  Racial and Gender and various types of equality issues still remain.  Systems of oppression have changed, become more sophisticated and subtle.  Sometimes oppression is not apparent unless you are subject to it.

In Police departments, the military, the government (and I am not anti-government) if you have rank, you have privilege.  Who’s going to question the boss when the boss has the power to make life miserable?


“COPS” By Mark Baker.  Click here to buy it.

Black’s Law Dictionary.   Click here to Buy it.





With Rank Comes Privilege: With Privilege, Power. Part 2


In 1992 I became a single parent through divorce, of my two girls, Sarah, 5 and Rachael, 4.  I decided I needed more education and a better job to support us. I went back to school at Kalamazoo Valley Community College while working 3 part-time jobs and caring for my girls.  It was not easy.  Rachael has severe cognitive impairment, epilepsy and cerebral palsy.  But I did it with the help of family and friends. While attending KVCC, I saw an ad for police recruits and applied to GRPD.


In one of my interviews I was asked the normal types of interview questions.  They also asked me if I was planning on having more children.  This was an embarrassing conversation and completely illegal.  I answered it not knowing at the time you can’t ask things like that.  They were aware that I had two daughters and that Rachael had medical conditions.  They were also well aware that I had been doing a good job of handling all my responsibilities.

I went through application/interview process, and was hired at age 27, which was older than most of the new hires.

The Psychological exam was uneventful, the questions were weird and unusual (in my opinion).  I’ve never taken another test like that one, although I have taken many many police exams. I passed without any problem.

At the medical exam they found out I had diabetes and they were not happy about it.  I provided a note from my Doctor who stated I managed it well and had no complications.  Due to ADA they could not rescind the job offer and I had already accepted it.  They probably figured I wouldn’t make it through but I did.


Under Chief W.H., things were mostly good.  He was a no-nonsense Chief and kept a tight rein on his command staff.

There were a number of controversies during his tenure.  A group of women and minority officers sued for discrimination. They sued over the subjectivity of evaluations which negatively affected assignments and promotions.  Chief W.H. called a meeting of his command staff.  He told them that under no circumstances were they to go after these individuals.  They were also told to prevent any such behavior by any other officers. Subsequent Chiefs did not do this.

They settled, and got their promotions.

After Chief W.H. retired, things changed. 

I loved my job.  But the small cracks that had existed started to become big problems after Chief W.H. retired.  The commanders he had kept in check were given more latitude and power under the new administration, Chief H.D.

The Training unit commander got rid of the veteran trainers in favor of younger less experienced officer that would follow orders without question. This was a problem.

New female officers were subjected to higher standards than their male counterparts. When they did meet expectations the bar was moved higher until they failed.

Female officers were routinely passed over for promotions in favor of males who did not test as well, or were under investigation for domestic assaults or other crimes.

Female officers did not get additional specialized training, assignments to other departments, or “Attaboys”.  What are Attaboys?   Attaboy’s were commendations. Female Officers  who recovered multiple stolen cars, or solved cases often did not get commended the same as or as often as the guys did.  I remember getting them once in a while.  One particular commendation was given to me by my Captain, but he gave it to me in private instead of in front of my peers at lineup, which was the usual custom.

At the range, all the trainers would stand behind the female officers.  Often, mistakes by the men were not noticed nor were they failed.  Women and minority officers were subjected to increased scrutiny and were routinely ordered back for remedial training even if they had passed!!

Lt. Woody would tell address new recruit classes.  He would say,  look around because some of you won’t be here at the end.  In one recruit training class he ordered everyone to stand in a circle and slap each other upside the head.  It was as if he believed that if you don’t bounce people or if someone doesn’t get hurt then you’re not doing your job if everybody passes.  It didn’t matter that they had made it through college and police academy and the rigorous hiring process. The goal was not to mentor and empower but to break people.  His new Field Training Officers earned nicknames like “The Ax”, “The Hatchet” and “The Terminator.”  All the guys that would do what he told them to, were called “Woody’s boys”.

To be continued…

With Rank Comes Privilege: With Privilege, Power. Part 3

MARIAN **name changed**

M was an intern that applied for a recruit position.  As an intern she would take telephone and walk-in reports and write them up.  She did a great job.  When she was hired Woody told her she should have a plan B.  They then marked her down for her report writing (Huh??) and eventually had her so stressed out that she was told quit or be fired.  She quit.  She then joined the military and was so extraordinary, at the end of training, even though she was injured and couldn’t finish, her commander awarded her, her dress blues.  She never recovered from her injuries.  She died during the early stages of our first lawsuit. If she was exceptional in the military why wasn’t she good enough for GR?

LIZ **name changed**

Liz, was another police department intern that was hired as a recruit. She made it through academy like the others. In fact she was exceptional. During her field training her trainer required her to have 15 traffic stops a night (in a 10 hour shift) which included getting a Polaroid picture and thumb print.  There were many times a Sgt wasn’t available which meant waiting, and making the detained subject wait until a Sgt was available to bring over the photo/print kit.  This took a lot of time, resulted in her not making her quota and she was marked down.  Being an intelligent problem solver, she went and bought supplies and made her own kit, this angered her Training Officer.

Liz’s trainer told her that no one wanted her there.

She was coming in an hour early, leaving hours late and doing her trainers paperwork. She was single with two children and had to hire a live-in nanny.  She wasn’t getting any sleep, her hair was falling out.  They wore her down and gave her the quit or be fired speech.  She quit.  When we called to tell her about our suit, she immediately said, “I’m in!”

SAM **name changed**

SAM in B&E squad consistently given 2-3 times the number of cases her male partner was assigned and then berated for having so many open cases (her male partner was nice enough to recognize this and help her).  This is different than what happened to me.  She was later transferred to the Auto Squad because she didn’t want to go to Auto Squad.


One night, the vice unit pulled over a black man and asked for a patrol car.  Patricia was sent.  Vice told her to search his car.  She asked “For what reason”.  They didn’t have one and he wasn’t under arrest.  They told her to do it anyway.  She refused.  The man asked her “Can they do that?”  She told him they can’t do that without a warrant, or without your permission and you don’t have to give it to them.  He said “No, you can’t search my car.”  They arrested him, handcuffed him, placed him in Patricia’s car, searched his car, didn’t find anything and left.  She was left to deal with the situation, calling dispatch to contact Vice to come back and deal with the situation. They ignored dispatch.  Patricia had to ask for a supervisor and complained about their behavior. The Supervisor asked her if she was making a formal complaint (crossing the thin blue line).  She replied, no, that is your job as a supervisor to correct these things.  Her supervisor told her just to release the man, and she did.  The Supervisor did nothing.  This is why she was called a bitch.  She followed the rules and the law.  Arresting, then un-arresting seemed to be a habit of some officers.  They never got in trouble for it.  One wonders what their police report looked like and how they justified probable cause after an illegal search.


When I worked the road on the West Side of Grand Rapids, I noticed one of the SGTs kept showing up or driving by my calls.  I didn’t think much of it because it was nothing new really. One night, I went to get dinner on Alpine, slightly out of our area (in the area where Fazoli’s is now).  It was a place we were allowed to go because at the time there were not many choices available to us. The SGT sent me a message.  It read, “Are you lost?”  I responded, “No, why do you ask??  He asked, “Where are you?”  I told him where I was.  He told me “You can’t eat there, it’s outside the city.  I asked him “Is this a new rule?”  He said, “You can’t go there.”  I responded “ok”, and left without eating.  Everyone else was still allowed to eat there, but I wasn’t.  I later found out he had been told to follow me around.


During my initial firearms training at the department, I qualified as expert.  I was and continue to be very proficient with my handgun, shotgun and rifle.

We had to train and qualify with our firearms twice a year.  During one qualification course I was ordered back the next day.  This was not unusual for the women and minorities to be ordered back for remedial, it happened often, for the stupidest things.  But this time they told me I had to be there at 430 instead of my usual start time of 5pm.  

Not only was this unreasonable it was a contract violation.

I objected and notified SGT J that I couldn’t get there at 430 but I could make it by 5 (my normal shift start time) due to childcare. He didn’t think it would be an issue and called Woody on the phone in the range house. I was also in the range house and heard the conversation. Sgt J explained the situation, but Lt. Woody said, too bad she better be there at 430!  I scrambled trying to make alternate arrangements, which caused a number of major problems.

I barely got to the range at the time as I was ordered.  The day group wasn’t done yet and I had to wait 45 minutes for them to finish.  If I had been late after being ordered to be there at a certain time, I would have faced discipline.   Several days later I went directly to Chief H.D. and told him that I had believed him when he said he wanted to make GRPD a family friendly organization. I told him what happened and how it was unacceptable and a violation of our union contract to change my work hours without advance notice, not to mention just plain wrong.  He told me he would look into it. I knew Woody would be mad that I complained, but I was sick of it.

Two weeks later, I was in an on duty shooting.  It wasn’t my day to work.  I was working for another female officer who couldn’t get the day off for a wedding, so we traded shifts. It was Saturday, and it was Sweetest Day.

To be continued…


With Rank Comes Privilege: With Privilege, Power. Part 4


I was in an on duty shooting.  It wasn’t my day to work.  I was working for another girl who couldn’t get the day off for a wedding, so we traded shifts. It was Saturday, and it was Sweetest Day.

The suspect, a woman, Fran, had depression issues.  She had tried to commit suicide in the past.   We don’t know what happened in the home prior to the incident, but we knew the relationship between her and her husband was not good.  During the evening, he left to go to the party store around the corner.  They were both heavy drinkers.  She grabbed her husband’s fully loaded Chinese SKS assault weapon from the closet, hopped in their car, parked under the highway facing towards the party store. This was just around the corner from their house.

I felt really bad for the poor soul that had just been released from Kent County Jail. He spent hours walking all the way home from the Kent County Jail to the West Side of Grand Rapids. As he was walking by, she started shooting at him.  He ran into a nearby gas station and the clerk called 911 for him.

I was nearby, and the second officer on scene.  Negotiation attempts by the first officer to get her to put down the weapon failed.  He kept trying.  All the responding officers were yelling on the radio.  This made it difficult to understand them.  I saw that there were a number of things that needed to be taken care of.  We had been warned of tunnel vision occurring during an incident like this, but I didn’t have it. I felt a calm assurance fall over me.  I asked dispatch in a calm voice to send officers to close down nearby roads, get people inside the nearby businesses (because they were outside gawking) and for everyone south of our position to take cover. All of our weapons were pointed in that direction.

The dispatcher later told me he realized everything was ok because I was there, I was calm and that had a calming effect on him.  The woman tentatively raised and lowered her weapon several times, just short of shouldering it, verbally refusing to comply.  Finally, she raised and shouldered the weapon, pointing it toward other officers. I was in good position to take the shot.  There were 5 of us that fired our weapons on Stocking St under the highway.  Three male and two female officers. Tina and I are the only two women in the history of the police department who have been involved in this type of incident while working at GRPD.

The entire incident from beginning to end took 11 minutes.  It felt like an eternity (yes, the slo-mo did happen).  We did not want to take her life, but we had no choice because she was going to take someone else’s.

We also later learned that a program on “Suicide by Cop” had run on a news program the night before.  We believe this was her end goal.

While we were still on the street in full uniform, they took our weapons as evidence. There had just been a training that said not to do this.  It left us like sitting ducks, no way to protect ourselves while in full uniform.  Our Policy and Procedure manual said that if we were in uniform we were to carry our weapon.  We were each taken to the Detective Unit and placed in a separate interrogation rooms.  They assigned us each an escort.  A new female officer was assigned to escort me to the police department and stay with me all night, even trips to the restroom. We were now the subjects of investigation in a homicide.

Woody, the training Lt. I had complained about was called in.  He entered the interrogation room, looked directly at the officer assigned to babysit me, and told her “Oh, we were worried about you” even though she wasn’t at the incident.  He didn’t say anything similar to me, but asked me if I was right or left-handed.  I told him right-handed.

He came back later with a temporary replacement gun.  I stuffed it in my holster and secured it.  I worked second shift, but didn’t get home until after third shift.  My babysitter had stayed the night when I called her and told her what happened.  She was awesome! (Thank you Jennifer M.S.).  I sent my young girls to school (they and their classmates would have no idea), and I started making phone calls to my family members and close friends so they would know I was ok when it all hit the news.  Then I went to bed, of course I couldn’t sleep.  My thoughts revolved around how it was textbook trained, how we did everything we were trained to do.  I was most worried about what the department would do, make us sacrificial lambs for politics sake?  I was less concerned about the public.  Many members of the public had witnessed the whole scenario.  One citizen even videotaped the whole thing (I am so glad he did, thank you!).  It showed we were honest in reporting what had happened and how the threat had become deadly requiring our actions.  The public wanted to know why the “Overkill.”

Well, here’s something to think about.  In a split second you had 5 people, in a position to do something, who came to exactly the same decision at the same time.   What are you gonna do? Hesitate and yell across the street to the other officers?  Hey! AJ! Are you gonna shoot?  Cause if you are then I won’t.  There’s no time to “take a poll”, and in fact that would have been deadly for a citizen or an officer.  The others had to take cover or didn’t have a shot.

We were placed on administrative leave until the prosecutor reviewed the case and cleared us.  We were sent to the shooting range, probably to be sure we wouldn’t freeze, and to get acquainted with our temporary replacement weapons.  I am right-handed.  The majority of people are.  This means the magazine release is under your thumb on your shooting hand. The one I was given was a lefty-gun. I discovered he had given me a left-handed gun. You don’t just find those laying around.  You either have to look for one on purpose or modify a weapon by switching the mag release button (under your thumb) to the other side.  I knew he had done it on purpose (I know this because he did it to another female officer, Cheri W).

Fortunately, I was proficient with my weapons and I didn’t have a safety issue because of it.  It could throw you off, Especially given the circumstances.  I knew immediately.  The others were able to practice while I waited for a range-officer to drive back to the Police Department Armory and get me a proper gun.

After the shooting, we all went through a group critical incident stress debriefing. The department did a good job with this.  Chief H.D. was present and told us he was honored to have us as officers and we had done a good job. My Female Captain praised me for my calmness on the radio, calling me phenomenal.  We were told to take time off and the prosecutor reviewed the case and declared we were justified in our actions.  It helped that a citizen had videotaped the entire incident.  A Female Sergeant wrote up a commendation letter requesting that the 5 of us be awarded combat medals.  When she submitted a copy to my Captain, he crumpled it up and threw it away, saying “Why would you commend anyone for killing someone.”  Even though we followed our training and did exactly what the department expected from us.  This is exactly the kind of behavior we came to expect and experienced on a regular basis from many of our Commanders.

Even after all this I jokingly told the girl I had worked for, “This is the last time I’m working for you!!  You are bad luck!”

TINA, the other female officer in the shooting ***name changed

Tina went back to her field training. She was pretty new, not from the area, and still in her probationary period.  They started giving her a hard time.  When Patricia heard what was happening, she confronted Tina’s trainer and asked him why,  He said, I was told to.  She reminded him of how bad he was when she had trained him.  She reminded him that he always got lost and couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag. She told him what he was doing was wrong.  Patricia had heard they (The Training Unit/Lt Woody) were going to get rid of Tina because now that she had been in a shooting, she would apply for disability down the road and the dept would have to pay her disability. Eventually She was told quit or be fired.  She quit.  No one wants a firing on their record.  She considered joining the suit but didn’t.

After we returned to work, Light duty and hidden from public view, Lt. Woody set up a meeting with me to discuss the complaint I had made about him.  He says “Now don’t you think, in light of this shooting you were involved in that it was good you had the extra training?”  I couldn’t believe it.  I said to him, I have no problem with training, I’ll go to all the training in the world, training is good, but this situation was handled badly by you and it was totally unnecessary for me to be treated that way.

They left me alone for a year or so.  I went in to detective unit/general case for better hours for my kids (someone else wanted out).  My male partner immediately put in for a different job.  I got a new male partner but his rudeness and behavior, screaming at suspects, caused me to go out on my own or borrow someone else.  He could be heard screaming at people but the supervisors never did anything, because he got confessions, solved cases.  I did too, but I never screamed at people.  You can catch more flies with honey…and I did.

To be continued…





With Rank Comes Privilege: With Privilege, Power. Part 5


Two female officer’s had been called “Losers” by their Captain.  When they asked him what he meant he told them to look in the mirror.

Christa was propositioned by the range officer. She turned him down.  He later ordered her to report to the range office where he told her he had to look at her gun.  He unloaded it took it apart put it back together, all the while telling a story about a woman who had made a sexual harassment complaint about a supervisor.  He then pointed the gun at her and asked her if she understood.  She understood that to mean keep your mouth shut or you’re dead.  When I was new, she told me never to go to the practice range alone, but would not tell me why.  I listened to her.  His nickname was Sgt Friendly.

He was allowed/encouraged to retire after a multitude of complaints about all the minority and women officers being sent back to remedial training even if they passed.


A News crew showed up at one plaintiff’s house after they somehow got her address (she dropped out)

We were followed

City hired D&K to delve into our financials/backgrounds

Trash pulls

Started having trouble with our phone lines at home

Other current/former female employees and spouses wanted to join

One former female employee/officer called and visited our attorney to join.  Shortly after, she received threatening phone calls warning her there’d be trouble if she joined.  This caused our attorneys to feel that their phones were compromised or there was surveillance occurring.  She did not join.

Laura was repeatedly called in by the supervisor and reprimanded for ignoring her phone. She discovered someone was going through her desk, and turning her desk phone ringer off and unplugging her radio charger.


My Daughter, Rachael, was getting worse.  She was having hundreds of seizures a day and medication wasn’t helping.  When I needed to take her to the Neurologist, I was told I had one hour. Officers were usually allowed 2 hours for appointments. When the Dr. saw Rachael, it was determined she needed to be admitted to the hospital immediately.  I told the Dr. what had happened at work and that I was going to be in trouble.  She called the hospital social worker who brought me Family Medical Leave Act paperwork.  I thought only pregnant women could use it and only after they burned up all their sick and vacation time (well that’s how the department applied it, but that is not how the Act reads). I had never needed it or used it before.  Information about the Family Medical Leave Act was not posted at the Police Department. Ultimately, I only used it 4-5 days total for Rachael, but they couldn’t write me up for it.

Men who took time off for family or children issues were called great dads, told not to worry if they didn’t have enough banked time.  Fundraisers were held for them and their children.  They had wives at home. They received Officer of the year awards (due to their dedication to their work, not their families).  The union asked other officers to donate vacation time to them if they were running out.  I was a single parent with two daughters, one with Special Needs.  This was never done for me.

I started getting more cases than my partner. They found out I copied our case logs.  They started giving my partner more cases to catch up his numbers with mine. When he came in and saw new cases on his desk he would swear loudly for several minutes.

Because of  all the things we were experiencing our attorney insisted we ask for  injunctive relief.

In response to our testimony about these incidents, the judge mocked us, doubted our honesty, and sanctioned (fined) us.  This emboldened the City even more, so things got worse.  The actual trial had not yet started.  The judge set the sanctions aside until the end of the rest of the trial, just meaning he delayed the enforcement of them.

This was not even the worst…yet…



With Rank Comes Privilege: With Privilege, Power. Part 6

The intimidation effort gets more serious…

I started getting more cases than my partner. They found out I copied our case logs.  They started giving my partner more cases to catch up his numbers with mine. When he came in and saw new cases on his desk he would swear loudly for several minutes. This did not make me feel good, but that was the point.

Because of all the things we were experiencing our attorney insisted we ask for injunctive relief.  It ended up turning into a two week hearing.

In response to our testimony about these incidents, the judge mocked us, doubted our honesty, and sanctioned (fined) us.  This emboldened the City even more, so things got worse.  The actual trial had not yet started.  The judge set the sanctions aside until the end of the rest of the trial, just meaning he delayed the enforcement of them.

THE ULTIMATE RETALIATION: turn in your badge and gun

First they came for Patricia…

On January 18, 2002 Patricia was working a short day then leaving for a 10 day vacation.

Dispatch tried calling her on the radio, but she had already gone out of service.  When they started paging her on the building’s P.A. system we all knew something was up.  They never used that thing.  Patricia was walked up to Internal Affairs (I.A.).  They asked her to surrender her gun and badge.  She asked for what reason?  They said they didn’t know and wouldn’t tell her a reason.  They ordered her to report to the Police Department Psychologist on the following Monday.  Pat said, nope, I’m on vacation.  She then asked them if they were now denying her vacation.  They said no, but was she was going to be in town?  Patricia responded “I am on vacation and where I am and what I’m doing is none of your business.”  They rescheduled her appointment and later notified her of the change.

The rest of us girls all knew something bad was happening. I went up to Internal Affairs (I.A.) on the 2nd floor to look for her.  I made an excuse to talk to the  Internal Affairs LT.  Chief H.D. saw me from two floors above from the atrium stairs.  He was standing there looking down.

There was no sign of Patricia.  I went and told the others that I didn’t know where she was.  I got a phone call from Liz telling me they had already escorted her out the back door.  No one else saw what was happening.  The building was empty for lunch and I had not left for lunch trying to make sure she was ok.

Then they came for me…   

I was an afterthought.  My Lt. walked me up to Internal Affairs.  By this time, I already knew what was happening, but I didn’t let on.  I refused to go in until I had a Union Steward.  I was told I didn’t need one.  I persisted in my stance. If I am being dragged into Internal Affairs then I definitely needed a Union Steward.  It took a while for them to find one.

Once I was in the Internal Affairs Office,  The Lt I had just been talking to was there.  His face was pale.  He handed me a letter ordering me to go for a Fitness For Duty Evaluation (FFDE) with the department psychologist, “Dr. Pete.”  I read it and asked, “Where is this coming from? He responded, “The Chief”.  It was apparent it was a last minute rush job.  The order had the Chief’s name on it but was signed by the IA Lt.  Chief H.D. couldn’t even do his own dirty work.  Lt. D.M. then asked me to surrender my gun and badge.

I looked around the room and loudly said to the five commanders present “You know this is bullshit.  It’s because of the lawsuit.”  They were all silent.  I had never raised my voice to any of them.

I turned over my badge and gun.  I unbuckled my belt and slid the whole belt off, leaving my gun holstered.  I slammed my belt, holstered gun (still attached to my belt yet facing the wall) and my badge onto the desk and shoved it away from me.  There was no danger to anyone.

MY CAPTAIN ducked into the corner of the room behind a plant while saying “Easy, easy”! I had heard rumor that he had run away as a coward during some sort of incident on the street, but that the document had been gleaned from his personnel file.  No one else in the room had cowered or hid behind a plant.  I looked at him and said, “REALLY?!”

Taking an Officer’s gun and badge is a big deal for a police officer and they knew this.  The job/the badge: It becomes a part of you.  I was escorted out the back door and told “Don’t come back.” FOR NO REASON OTHER THAN HAVING FILED A LAWSUIT AGAINST MY DEPARTMENT.  Our lockers containing our belongings have been padlocked since that day and serve as a message to the other women.

With tears running down my face, I walked to my car.  I called Mike, the guy I had been dating for a couple years.  I told him what had happened.  I thought it would be the end of our relationship.  But he said, I’ll be right there.  He dropped everything he was doing and drove downtown.  Later, they changed my status from administrative leave to unpaid leave.  Mike told me, don’t worry, we are a team.  I will never let you or your kids starve.  I will never forget that.

We have been married since 2003.  I love that man…


With Rank Comes Privilege: With Privilege, Power. Part 7


Word around the office was that they were going to pick us off one-by-one using Fitness For Duty Evaluations. The act of Patricia and I filing this federal Case effectively prevented the City from doing the same to the other plaintiffs in the State Case.   They did not want all the Plaintiffs in Federal court too.

I sure would have liked to hear their explanation for the apparently contagious nature of personality disorders.  Funny, I haven’t heard of anyone else catching it since.

These are not isolated events

Patricia and I are not the first women this has happened to.  It was well known that being sent to the department Psychologist was a punishment.  With the guys there would be some sort of incident, or “precipitating event” they would be sent to the psychologist get two weeks off then be allowed to return to work.  I can’t think of a single instance of a male officer at my department being sent for no reason.  The guys didn’t usually lose their jobs. All the women did.  This has happened at other police departments across the country and other types of organizations.

Back to our psych evaluations:

Our initial appointments involved taking fill-in-the-bubble tests.  We were not going to be passive/reactive, sheep led to slaughter.  We decided to fight.  We knew that they had gotten rid of other women the same way, so we came up with a plan of action.

When I went to my initial appointment with the city psychologist, Dr. Pete, I went in wired with a tape recorder.  In fact, I taped all my appointments with Dr. Pete.  The first day, he had me come in and gestured toward some tables so I went over and sat down.  He then told me to sit on the other side of the table in a different chair.  I obliged.  There was a comic hanging on the wall that I could now see from this position.  It had a picture of a woman in a skirt with her hands over her head and two male officers with their guns drawn.  The caption read something like, “We just got the results of your Psychological exam.”  I laughed sarcastically and asked him, Oh, is this for my benefit?  He quickly took it down after smirking, “Oh, does this offend you? I thought it was humorous.”  I told him it was probably inappropriate to have posted in an office that does Fitness For Duty Evaluations.

He gave me 5 tests to take.  One was a pre-employment test, a personality test, another was an intelligence test and with a couple others.  He went into another room.  I quietly read out loud the titles and versions of each test so I would get it on my tape recorder.  Each time we were scheduled with the Dr. Pete, we would make a second appointment with two others, for the same day, a Psychiatrist and a Forensic Psychologist.  We would then take exactly the same tests again.

I went back to “Dr. Pete” another day for the interview portion of the evaluation.  He would ask me questions. and I would answer them.  He would then stare at me in silence expecting, what?  Most of the time he would shake his head disapprovingly while looking at the papers on his desk the city had given him, but I wasn’t allowed to see them.

I told him about my shooting incident, about Lt. Woody, and about my Captain throwing away my commendation letter (requesting a combat medal).  Dr. Pete said, “Well if this all really happened I’m sure it would have been investigated.”  What he didn’t know was that the saying around the department was “With Rank Comes Privilege.” Commanders were rarely held accountable for their actions. 

When he produced his report, he completely mis-characterized things I told him, outright turned things and left  important things out (Remember! I taped them all).  He interjected comments about what  I was thinking, how I perceived his comments as if he could read my mind!

He called me apathetic and pessimistic, and dependent.

My family members and friends outright laughed at this assessment saying, well he certainly wasn’t around you much now was he.

“Dr. Pete” told GRPD it appears that Renee’ has some sort of personality disorder, most likely some sort of paranoid personality disorder.  Not taking into account organizational culture, differences in men and women’s psychological responses or even how I navigated the world outside the police department.  He even ignores the fact that Personality Disorders show up in adolescence, not after years of being an adult without one, unless there is a head injury of some sort.  I had sustained no such injury.

“Dr Pete”, not certified in PTSD evaluation, goes on to comment on the possibility of PTSD. He attempts to outline the diagnostic criteria and remarks that he is sure it is not present in my case.  He goes on to suggest that my condition is not treatable, but that medication might be helpful (take note:  Psychologists can not prescribe medication.  Psychiatrists can because they are actually Medically Licensed).

“Dr. Pete” then then goes on to criticizes the report from the Psychiatrist I had sought treatment from more than a year earlier.  I went to take care of early emerging PTSD symptoms related to my on-duty shooting.  I sought my own treatment, paid cash, and it was resolved without any performance issues or intervention needed from my employer.

“Dr. Pete” did not use or reveal results of all the tests we took, but Patricia and I were not surprised when we were both found unfit for duty with the same un-treatable “diagnosis” even though we have very different personalities.

We received copies of other FFDE’s in discovery that were done on female officers at GRPD before ours. It was interesting to find that ours were cookie cutter to theirs.  It was almost like he had a template and he just inserted the names.


With Rank Comes Privilege: With Privilege, Power. Part 8

The Problems with Dr. Pete’s report(s)???

  • Subjective/One-Sided Input
  • Hard of hearing?/Inept?/or Biased?
  • Made Assumptions/Mind Reader?
  • Ignored Science/Personality Disorders
  • Ignored the Whole Picture
  • Member of IACP-International Association of Chiefs of Police (Management Organization)
  • Let MPA/APA Membership Lapse/Ethics requirements
  • Marketed Self as “Police Psychologist”- There is No “Certification” in “Police Psychology”
  • Dual Relationship/Accepted Client- Not always wrong
  • Accepted Large Amount $ for Performing

Dr Pete’s Primary Income 1996 came from doing Fitness For Duty Evaluations/Pre-Employment Evaluations

Dr. Pete sold his “practice” in 2003 – He advertised that the only requirement to take over his practice = Licensed Psychologist


  • Ignored numerous other reports
  • City Declined Pete’s original suggestion for referral
  • Patricia and Renee’ still not back to work at GRPD
  • Tactic has been used across the country
  • National FOP/Union ignoring this problem
  • Psychologists accepting these referral$

Patricia had the following evaluations (7)

  • Dr. Pete: Grand Rapids City Psychologist-> unfit
  • Dr. Tony: “Friend of Pete” Grand Rapids Hired Psychologist-> unfit
  • Dr. Larry: Plaintiff Hired Psychiatrist -> Fit
  • Dr. Mark: Plaintiff Hired Psychologist -> Fit
  • Dr. Mark: Plaintiff Hired Psychologist -> Fit
  • Dr. Nancy: Plaintiff Hired Psychologist -> Fit  (evaluator for CHP and LAPD)
  • Dr. Dave: Plaintiff Hired Psychologist -> Fit

Renee’s (9)

  • Dr. Pete: Grand Rapids City Psychologist-> unfit
  • Dr. Tony: “friend of Pete” Grand Rapids Hired Psychologist-> unfit
  • Dr. Larry: Plaintiff Hired Psychiatrist -> Fit
  • Dr. Mark: Plaintiff Hired Psychologist ->Fit
  • Dr. Mark: Plaintiff Hired Psychologist -> Fit
  • Dr. Nancy: Plaintiff Hired Psychologist ->Fit (evaluator for CHP and LAPD)
  • Dr. Dave: Plaintiff Hired Psychologist -> Fit
  • Dr. Patrick: Appellate Attorney Hired -> Fit
  • Dr. Tom: Spectrum Health Pre-employ-> Fit

I am certain that Patricia and I are the most “shrinked” and “certified sane” individuals in the State of Michigan.  Why would GRPD ignored all the additional evaluations?

We received copies of the tests we took for “Dr. Pete” during discovery. When they were analyzed it was found we had passed those too.  “Dr Pete” just didn’t use the results from the tests he gave us!?  Now why would a “Police Psychologist” do $uch a thing?

So even though we are certified sane, we lose the state case…



With Rank Comes Privilege…Part 9 DEBTORS COURT

We lost the State Case.

Why? The Judge wouldn’t let the jury hear about our adverse job actions (the proof for discrimination). The jury didn’t know Pat and I had been walked out the back door.  As far as the jury knew, we were still working.  We were not allowed to mention it or discuss our job loss in any way, shape or form.  We were not allowed to talk about our “punishment”.  The judge also took the legal definition of similarly situated to the extreme, so we were not allowed to bring up comparisons between our circumstances and guys who were doing the same job.

The City’s Attorney’s began threatening to saddle our Attorneys with fees and costs (and the sanctions) to get them to settle the State and Federal cases together and demanded they drop Patricia as a client.   They asked me to agree to settle with the other plaintiffs (The State Case) and drop Patricia.  When I said no, they abandoned both of us and withdrew as our attorney’s.  How could I settle, hang my co-plaintiff out to dry, and allow them to muddy my reputation and name and be permanently labeled “crazy” when it was a lie!?  I would never be able to get another job!

They threatened the Psychologists and Psychiatrist we had hired telling them them they could lose their licenses because they were practicing “Police Psychology” without the proper license. The Psychiatrist and Psychologist we hired, paid for their own lawyers and fought with us. They both paid a heavy cost for it.  We will always be grateful to them for sticking to their guns, being honest and ethical and not running off like cowards.

The State Case was settled by the other Plaintiffs, but we appealed (advantage of a two-fronted attack). Because we appealed the Judge stated in chambers that Pat and I would have to pay more money than the others (Patricia and our former attorney’s were present in Chambers when the Judge said this, and that is exactly what did happen.  It’s funny, but our attorney’s were not required to pay any part of the sanctions).  When The Judge put it on the official court record, he said it was because we wasted more of the court’s time.  When the Judge reinstated the fine/sanctions he told our former attorneys, but we were not notified.  Because no one told us, we had no idea we had a “bill” to pay.

We then get dragged into debtors court for being delinquent….


Because we were not notified we made no payment arrangements.

We were shocked and surprised when we were ordered to bring all our financial records and dragged into debtor’s court.  They wanted to know if we had any jewelry, valuables or if we owned other items of value.  We immediately started sending them payments while trying to negotiate payment plans. I sent them numerous payments for months, writing letters to negotiate an amount.  They always responded that it wasn’t enough money, yet they cashed the checks.  The other plaintiffs that settled were allowed to have $50 deducted from each of their paychecks until it was paid.  We were not allowed to make $50 payments.

Debt collectors are not allowed to do this, but the City of Grand Rapids was!!

The Judge then allowed them to garnish us, even though we were paying.  He signed the order!!  They cleaned out my checking account three days before Christmas.  The money in my account included my pay and my daughter Rachael’s Social Security Disability.  Social Security Disability is exempt from garnishment by law.  I had to borrow money to keep a couple checks from bouncing and I couldn’t buy Christmas presents for my kids.  We fought it in court ourselves and got most of the money back but it took months.  Unbeknownst to Pat they also put a Lien on her house.  She later had to fight to get this removed.

By this time, we were not receiving any pay from the city, they had blocked our unemployment which we had to fight for, we were working part-time jobs for less pay and they were trying to starve us out…