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Report: Racial discrimination claims against TPD Chief DeLeo are unsubstantiated

Posted at 4:59 PM, Jun 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-13 17:22:53-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A city-lead investigation into racial discrimination accusations against Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo has come to an end.

According to a report obtained by WTXL, a City of Tallahassee inquiry into racial discrimination allegations against Chief DeLeo were found to be unsubstantiated. The release of the previously unreported document follows a story first reported by WTXL about Chief DeLeo's decision to resign from TPD's helm.

The inquiry was initiated based on an anonymous complaint that was sent to the Tallahassee Human Relations Council on Feb. 18. The city says the complaint alleged disparities in hiring, promotions, reassignments, transfers and disciplinary actions in the department based on race. The complaint also pointed to a lack of diversity in TPD's command staff.

That same letter was also sent to county commissioner Bill Proctor and Steven Slade, the vice president of the Big Bend Chapter of the Florida Police Benevolent Association, Inc., both of whom called for an investigation into the claims.

In response to the complaint, Ellen Blair, the city's Director of Human Resources and Workforce Development (HRWD), and Angela Hendrieth, HRWD's Manager of Talent Development, met with 13 TPD employees. Chief DeLeo was also given an opportunity to respond to the allegations through an interview and a written statement. In addition to the interview, the city says department and personnel records were reviewed.

In the end, the HRWD determined that the findings were inconsistent with the anonymous complaint.

"The inquiry showed a consistent picture of Chief DeLeo as a no-nonsense, at times demanding, police chief who has a direct leadership style and high expectations for all of his officers," the report read. "However, none of the employees interviewed believed that Chief DeLeo exhibited disparate treatment of officers basked on race, gender, or other protected class of individuals. Furthermore, the inquiry found no record of disparate treatment of officers or other employees as alleged in the complaint."

The report also detailed the evidence found against each of the claims listed in the anonymous complaint. The report even addressed Officer Damien Pearson's termination for allegedly violating TPD's deadly use of force policy, saying that his termination had nothing to do with his race because there had been other African-American officers who fired their weapons in the past and were not disciplined.

Following the conclusion of the inquiry, the HRWD recommended that "management review these findings and take any action deemed appropriate and necessary."

City Manager Reese Goad says the city takes every complaint seriously.

"We've got a very professional police force that is also process oriented. The officers have the opportunity to have inspections of what they do," said Goad. "It's a very public process that we respect every step of the way. We hit those issues head on. That's one of the difficult tasks of being a police officer. "

These newly released documents also take at look at diversity within TPD. It shows that Chief DeLeo promoted or hired all of the current women and minority majors, 12 of the 17 sergeants, and 6 of the 12 lieutenants.

Chief DeLeo's last day will be July 5.

You can read the full report below:

DeLeo Discrimination Report by on Scribd