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…