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: ARWOOD, THOMAS WILLIAM  4131 JONES COVE ROAD SEVIERVILLE, 378766658  Age at Arrest: 42 years old Arresting Agency: Collegedale Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) --- ASHBY, BRITTANY LYNN  3644 TANAKA TRAIL CHATT, 37404  Age at Arrest: 22 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Kendric Evans, 20, Shot On Lyerly Street

Police said 20-year-old Kendric Evans was shot on Lyerly Street late Sunday afternoon.   At 5:11 p.m., Chattanooga Police responded to a local hospital concerning a person who had been shot.   The victim arrived at the hospital suffering from a gunshot wound which was non-life threatening. The victim did not identify the suspect or how he had arrived at ... (click for more)

Proud Of Chattanooga And The Women's March

I was very happy to participate in the Women’s March on Chattanooga yesterday afternoon. The diversity and the sheer numbers of women, men and children were incredible. One estimate was at least 3,000. Standing together with all of these like-minded souls was overwhelming and humbling.  I have rarely been so happy and so proud of my town.  One question is, why is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Washington’s Favorite

By the time darkness fell over Washington, D.C., on Sunday, it had clearly been a monumental weekend. On Friday Donald Trump had ben inaugurated as the 45 th President of the United States. On Saturday a fierce crowd of a half-million women who each are entitled to have the identical rights as men in the same United States, marched on The Mall. And then, the Washington Post printed ... (click for more)

Tullahoma Nips East Hamilton For Central Mat Title

The annual Central Invitational wrestling tournament was cancelled two weeks ago by the threat of inclement weather, but they were able to get it in on Saturday and it was a battle to the wire for the team championship. Luke Champion was the individual winner at 285 pounds and it was his victory that lifted the Tullahoma Wildcats to the team title as they finished the day-long ... (click for more)

Father Ryan Rallies To Beat Soddy Daisy

The Soddy Daisy Trojans may have been embarrassed over a lopsided whipping they took at the hands of the Bradley Bears Thursday night in Cleveland, but they came out with fire in their eyes Friday night in a dual meet with Father Ryan. The host Trojans had a seemingly-comfortable 32-22 lead with three matches remaining, but the Purple Irish won all three -- including two with ... (click for more)