City Council Approves $725,000 Settlement For White Police Officers Who Claimed Discrimination; 10 Officers To Share Payout

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The City Council on Tuesday night approved a $725,000 settlement in a lawsuit brought by 10 white officers in the Chattanooga Police Department who said they were unfairly passed over for promotions, while a black officer was elevated.

The Chancery Court lawsuit filed in 2006 was in the name of then-Lt. Bobby Rodgers. Others in the case who will share in the settlement are Scott Crider, Tim Commers, Scott Churchwell, Todd Royval, Bryan Moody Jr., David Woosley, Phil Headden, Rebecca Sue Shelton and Barry Vradenburgh.

Councilman Chris Anderson called it a fair settlement. He said he had participated in two recent mediation sessions on the case.

Steve Parks was the chief at the time who put in the hiring freeze, then lifted it temporarily after criticism that the city did not have enough high-ranking black officers.

Chief Parks had admitted in testimony at a hearing in February 2006 that Tracy Arnold, who was moved up from lieutenant, had just had an unfavorable job performance ruling from Internal Affairs.

Chief Parks said one factor was that promotion of more minorities "was something the community and the City Council were asking for and expecting."

The suit said their promotions were blocked after a freeze was put into place after the uproar about the lack of promotion of blacks into the administrative ranks.

Capt. Vivian Hixson said she had difficulties with the performance of then-Lt. Arnold and finally decided to take the unusual action of referring the matter to Internal Affairs.

Capt. Mark Rawlston, who was over Internal Affairs at the time and later was police chief, testified that it was alleged that then-Lt. Arnold was not keeping up with necessary paperwork, was not attending community meetings as required, and was not staying in contact with officers in his command.

"He was somewhat of an absentee supervisor," Capt. Rawlston said.

He said the Internal Affairs case against then-Lt. Arnold was sustained by investigators and by an administrative committee. But he said the action stopped at the level of Chief Parks.

Capt. Hixson said Chief Parks called her in and told her "he had made the decision he needed to promote Tracy." She said he asked her to consider withdrawing the complaint, and she complied.

Chief Parks said he had not known that Capt. Hixson had taken the action, and he said it was something that normally would be handled administratively, not by Internal Affairs.

Chief Parks said, if the action had been sustained, it would have blocked then-Lt. Arnold from being considered for promotion for two years, and he said that was too harsh.

He said he decided to promote then-Lt. Arnold since he was the only person on the list eligible for moving up to captain at the time.

Chief Parks said he was placed over training and communication. He said he has been doing "an adequate job" as captain.

Attorney Steve Dobson filed the suit and still represents the officers.




Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ADAMS, BRAD DEWAYNE  2821 3RD AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37407  Age at Arrest: 37 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) --- ADKINS, KENDRA R  132 PARKS DRIVE FORT OGLETHORPE, 30742  Age at Arrest: 19 years old Arresting Agency: Red Bank ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain To Hold Public Meetings On Idea Of Setting Up Own School System

Discussion about follow-up public meetings regarding the Signal Mountain School System Viability Committee (SMSSVC) report dominated the council’s work session on Friday afternoon.    Mayor Chris Howley said that the town owes it to those in the middle to allow them to be engaged in the process. Vice Mayor Dick Gee said that the logical progression will be to ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Myth And Fact Check

My husband and I recently had the privilege of participating in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Chattanooga. I listened as my husband told the audience about how his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was nine and how she died from the disease when he was fourteen. As a child, my husband didn’t understand what breast cancer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s All About People

The leaders of Hamilton County’s Mental Health Court held a heart-warming open house Friday afternoon and it was announced that just since February, the creation has saved the county over $3 million in incarceration costs. But to hear County Mayor Jim Coppinger or Judge Don Poole tell it, that’s not what is important. “Soon after the court started, a kind, quiet man I’ll ... (click for more)

Mocs Mueller Nets Game Winner In 1-0 Soccer Win

Jordan Mueller picked up her own pass and pushed a shot into an empty net to give Chattanooga 1-0 Southern Conference women’s soccer win over Wofford on Senior Day at Finley Stadium on a cloudy Sunday afternoon.   “Pure grit by Jordan Mueller,” Chattanooga head coach Gavin McKinney said. “She is a gritty, tough, hardworking kid and it showed for the goal. She went and pressed ... (click for more)

Top-Ranked Alabama Smashes Tennessee 45-7

(This story has been updated) Tennessee, a 34-point underdog in one of college football’s better long-running series, stayed close for one quarter before top-ranked Alabama switched to another gear and pummeled the struggling Vols, 45-7, Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The rock-ribbed Crimson Tide defense locked down Tennessee’s ground game, hounded quarterback ... (click for more)