Attorney on GPD restructuring: the only men left standing were black

SHEILA MATHEWS :::

Attorneys representing two former officers of the Griffin Police Department have issued a letter of demand to city officials, alleging the recent GPD restructuring illegally resulted in their clients’ termination of employment based on racial discrimination.

The Grip has obtained a copy of the letter submitted to City Manager Kenny Smith from Buckley & Klein LLP, the law firm representing Dwayne Jones and Terry Brock, whose jobs were eliminated Jan. 31.

The letter states in part, “Terry Brock was a 32-year employee of the city of Griffin Police Department. He ultimately rose to the level of major in 2007. His service record is replete with accolades and commendations. Most notably, Mr. Brock earned a Medal of Honor when he saved citizens’ lives in the midst of a bank explosion. Dwayne Jones was a 27-year employee of the department. He served as a captain since 2001. Mr. Jones was the only leader in the department that trained at the FBI Academy, a notable accomplishment among law enforcement.

Despite their qualifications and accomplishments, the city somehow selected these two gentlemen for termination when downsizing the department. Mr. Brock and Mr. Jones share two common traits: 1) they are more qualified than their black counterparts who retained their jobs; and 2) they are white.”

In addition, the letter goes on to state the Police Department restructuring violated the city’s personnel policy, specifically section 6.4 which states, “Should it become necessary to reduce the number of employees within a department, such employees shall be laid off on the basis of a combination of the following factors: seniority and classification, years of service with the city of Griffin, performance of a critical skill and job performance over the past three years.”

According to Eleanor Attwood, Jones’ and Brock’s attorney-of-record who signed the letter, “That policy dictates that neither Mr. Brock nor Mr. Jones should have been selected for termination.”

Attwood later wrote, “Mr. Brock and Mr. Jones were selected for demotion and termination out of their positions because they are white. That truth will be as transparent at trial as it is now.”
She cites the GPD’s organizational charts prior to and following the restructuring as evidence that the personnel decisions were based on race.

Atwood alleges the chart prior to the restructuring indicates the department had one white major and one black major with comparable terms of service and qualifications, and the rank of captain was also occupied by one black male and one white male. However, she said the captains’ qualifications leaned in favor of the white captain.

“After the restructuring, the only men left standing were black,” she wrote in reference to Capt. Donald Britt and Capt. Homer Daniel, who respectively head up the GPD’s Criminal Investigation and Uniform Patrol divisions. “There can be no other explanation for those decisions than a racial preference. Bear in mind that the law does not allow for a government to prefer employees based on race even when those preferences are fueled by the populace it governs.”

Atwood’s letter identifies Jones’ and Brock’s demands which include a lump sum payment of $600,000 and reinstatement of Mr Jones and Mr. Brock’s positions prior to the adverse employment actions at issue, with full retirement and other benefits and back pay retroactive to their termination dates.

She said this offer will remain on the table only 14 days and that should the city opt not to come forward with a “meaningful counteroffer” during that time, charges of racial discrimination will be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Griffin City Manager Kenny Smith was contacted, but declined to comment extensively on the subject.

“It probably wouldn’t be in the city’s best interest to comment now since it appears like there could be some potential for litigation,” Smith said.

He said that does not necessarily indicate the city will not comply with Jones’ and Brock’s demands.

“I can’t say that. The commissioners haven’t had a chance to discuss the matter,” he said.

Smith went on to say that he is uncertain if the 14-day deadline applies to legal charges or an EEOC complaint.

“I kind of take that to understand if there is not an agreement, there is certainly the potential for that,” Smith said of the letter he received Feb. 28, making March 14 the deadline for the city’s response. “The commissioners are going to meet on the 11th, so we’ve got a few days to talk about it.”

Although the Board of Commissioners has had no formal discussion on the discrimination allegation, Smith confirmed each member has received a copy of the letter.

Asked if he stands behind his recommendations concerning the GPD restructuring, including the personnel decisions made, Smith said, “Oh, sure.”

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Comments

  1. Norberto Rivera says:

    It’s very sad to see how this situation has evolved. I have nothing but great respect for all my brothers and sisters in blue. City Hall needs to step up and do the right thing for a change.

  2. annehendricks says:

    May justice be served!!!!!

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