THE UNEXPECTED HAPPENS…
Patricia and I got jobs.
Police jobs. She was hired first, and he was so impressed with her he asked if the “other” officer was any good and needing a job. We found the one person that would give us a chance. We did such a good job, he gave us more responsibilities. Our new Chief started receiving phone calls urging him to fire us. He had a little fun with it. He did news interviews telling reporters that we were the best officers he had ever had and thank you to Grand Rapids for training them so well (this irked GRPD). Then, when it came time for the trial, he told us since it was on days we had to work, we would have to wear our uniforms and report directly to work after court was done. The City of Grand Rapids/GRPD was mad. They went after him too. The SGT (GCJR) who had been after the Chief job for years was unhappy. A local told me that many Chief’s had come and gone, but GCJR was always the only one left standing, and somehow always came out smelling like a rose. He got into our department emails. He badmouthed us to the Chief (Renee said this, Pat said this/He lied). He told Pat that I had asked for her shifts (UNTRUE). He told the Chief we were fighting over each others’ shifts (UNTRUE). We didn’t have any idea this was happening until Pat asked me why I wanted her shifts, wasn’t I getting enough hours? I said, what?! I never asked for your shifts! We smelled a rat disguised as a rose. And his behavior didn’t change until another more crafty and better looking rat got him fired and replaced him.
SGT GCJR had learned from his dad. His father was a police officer in a nearby city. GCJR rode along with his dad. He told us his dad (GC) would yell and scream at people and treat them badly. He also told us that his father always said, Don’t do what I do, do what I say.
The SGT was mad because he went to school with people who got jobs at GRPD, but he didn’t. He told us he hadn’t passed the background, (or was it the Psych?). He was in one of the GRPD officer friend’s wedding. They were in his. He was talking to them about us and them to him. We hadn’t even worked with those GRPD officers that much! There were 400 officers, 4-5 areas of the City and 3 shifts as well as administrative positions. When I went into the Detective unit, I never met any of the new people who started out on nights for years until they switched shifts!
Our Chief lost his job. The SGT finally got him. But our Chief sued and settled out of court with that municipality. He was the only person with the guts to give us a chance, and we delivered for him. We solved cases, mentored other officers. The SGT was not happy and undermined our efforts from the beginning while trying to pretend to be everyone’s friend, but trying to pit them against each other. Karma, or another Rat got him, eventually.
During the trial, The City depicted us as dangerous, put pictures of us up on the courtroom screen with pictures of handguns super-imposed over us and pointing into the air. As If we would go off and shoot up the town at any moment. We were just glad they used some decent pictures of us. It seemed whenever we were winning, nice pictures of us appeared in the newspaper, when we were down they put in the worst pictures of us they could find.
In court, the first City Psychologist, “Dr. Pete” finally admitted he added “drama” to Patricia’s report, he thought it was funny, but the way he did it, turned the event she received a commendation for, into a crime.
The City’s second Psychologist, Dr. Tony, continually claimed that we didn’t take “responsibility” for our “shortcomings” (this was also said about me to Chief HD by “Woody” after I complained about him). When we pointed out that Dr. Tony had our documents switched (pats in my evaluation, and mine in hers) he blamed his secretary.
Dr Tony was asked if he was friends with Dr. Pete, the First City Psychologist. He said no. Patricia’s attorney produced a copy of Dr. Tony’s vanity book, and pointed out the forward which read, I want to thank my friend and mentor Dr. Pete.
Dr. Tony tried to explain this by saying well you know, we’ve run into each other at conferences and stuff so we are not “friends” but “friends”.
The icing on the cake came from my attorney. She got up and asked Dr. Tony, Do you remember the Union Steward introducing you to my client before her evaluation as she gestures at me. Tony nods vigorously, “Yes, yes I do.” And do you remember after going into the conference room asking her if she preferred to be called “Pat, Patty or Patricia?” Do you remember what my client said? He shakes his head no. My attorney says, you don’t remember her saying, “My name is Renee’?” The whole court room burst out laughing. It was the most satisfying, comedic thing I had ever seen!!
Needless to say we won. The Jury doubled our damages.
Several months later the judge overturned the Jury’s decision. This rarely, if ever, happens.
The appeals court overturned the Judge. We had won again.
The judge reduced the award and thinking he was being “fair” gave the City two options.
- You can re-instate them to their jobs
- You can pay them according to the union contract as if they were working but they don’t come into work.
The city chose option 2. We are not allowed into the Police Department. Our lockers are still padlocked with our belongings in them sending a very clear message to all other women at the police department. They take taxes out of our paychecks, even though we are not residents, and we do not do any work for or in the City of Grand Rapids (more on this tax issue later).
Early on in this whole process, I asked another officer how she was doing. It seemed like she was always in trouble. She wasn’t perfect, but who is? I felt badly for her and so many others (it was my goal to help any new people as much as possible and not treat them like most new people were treated). The Captain had it in for her. She eventually switched shifts to get away from him because he kept writing her up constantly. It was so bad, that in response to me asking how she was doing, she told me that she did not care who they were picking on, as long as it wasn’t her.
Apathy about injustice is a real problem. Any and all injustice! Just because you think it won’t affect you, it will, at some point: If not you, your mother, your sister, your daughter and the men in their lives. We cannot allow evil people to do evil things. We don’t need that criminal 5% in charge. Whether it be a governmental agency, a business or any other organization. There is strength in numbers. It started with the 14 of us, word around the department was that they were going to put us all off on a mental. When the two of us filed the Federal suit it kept the department from doing the same to the others.
I would like to know how they would have explained the contagious nature of Personality Disorders at GRPD.
WOMEN, I’m talking to you when I say we have to stop competing with each other for jobs, men, recognition. We have to support each other. We are supposed to be on the same team. There should not be a Queen bee, and if you wonder what I am referring to google Queen Bee Syndrome.
Men, you need to speak up when you see a woman or any other person being mistreated. Remember, your voice seems to carry more weight than ours. These women could turn out to be your mother, your sister, your wife, your daughters.
Those of you in positions that give you power or authority, you need to realize that when you oppress you are contributing to keeping our entire country from unity. Some of you hold the very livelihood and lives of others in your hands. Those of you who enjoy this will pay the piper. Karma will get you. Beware the corrupting nature of power. My oldest daughter got picked on and teased at school because her mother was “crazy.” It was in all the papers, on the tv news stations. My family and close friends knew better, a few of my neighbors knew better, but most people didn’t. Even my own Union Steward made a comment to another Plaintiff after I was out on leave, “But she was found unfit for duty?!” The other girl looked at him and told him, “Yeah, and I’ve got a bridge to sell you.”
Our case has set precedence and has helped others in this situation. We on the other hand, can’t get part-time or full-time jobs in our own field, no matter how much time, money, or effort we put into it. Even though I may not ever get another police job, I have the respect, of my family, my friends as well as officers I used to work with and for. No one can call me a coward, and there is no room for cowardice in police work.
We have received calls from across the country from other female officers who have had the same thing happen to them. I called the National FOP! They acknowledged it was an upward trend to use Fitness For Duty Evaluations to get rid of employees who complain, but have not done anything about it.
Why should any of this matter to you? You may be asked at some point in your life or careers to do something unethical, or immoral or just plain wrong. You need to recognize these occasions and do what is right. There may be far-reaching ramifications of your behavior, so make sure your intentions are ethical. Your actions could protect or subject you or your organization to expensive liability.
Martin Niemoller was a Protestant Minister. He spent time as a prisoner in concentration camps during the holocaust.
Martin Niemoller said, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
I add this, as human beings we are all supposed to be on the same side.