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.



Derrick Richardson Says He Was Wrongly Convicted Of Murder 24 Years Ago

Derrick Richardson, 45, says he was wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder in 1992. He testified in Judge Barry Steelman’s courtroom at a post-conviction hearing on Monday. Police reports from Dec. 8, 1991, describe the death of Louie F. Dwight, 39, who was found in his truck at 1903 Roanoke Ave. They said he had suffered three gunshot wounds to his legs. He was transported ... (click for more)

Woman Stabbed Twice During Altercation With Another Woman On Woodside Street

A woman was stabbed twice in an altercation with another woman outside a house on Woodside Street on Tuesday afternoon. The Chattanooga Police Department was notified by a local hospital that a female had arrived suffering from stab wounds to the neck and shoulder. The injuries are reported to be non-life threatening.  The incident happened around 4:30 p.m. Investigators ... (click for more)

Expand Broadband Internet, Not The Size Of Government

I’d like to respond to two letters in your July 13 edition that praised Rep. Mike Carter’s efforts to expand statewide broadband access. Rep. Carter wants more government involvement in the broadband sector, including an expansion of taxpayer-funded, municipal broadband networks.  Rep. Carter’s supporters argued he’s standing up for consumers against huge telecommunications ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Horses Vs. DesJarlais

It is well-known that shortly after the despicable “Big Lick” faction of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry put on a very-pointed fundraiser for the equally repugnant Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper) two years ago, the misguided doctor has repeatedly tried to bully and strong-arm the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the behalf of the vermin who sadistically torture the ... (click for more)

Dunbar Promoted To Head Wrestling Job At Ooltewah

J.D. Dunbar had been promoted to head wrestling coach at Ooltewah High School. Dunbar, an assistant with the Owls’ mat program since 2012, becomes a head coach for the first time at the high school level. He replaces Bryant Blackmon, who recently resigned. The 36-year-old Dunbar is also the school’s strength and conditioning coach and assistant head football coach on ... (click for more)

Another Big Week For Chattanooga Football Club

More than 10,000 fans gathered at Finley Stadium last Saturday to see a 5-3 penalty kick win over Miami United.   CFC keeper Gregga Hartley made a save and scored the winning penalty kick, helping his team to advance to the national semifinals on Saturday.  They will host Sonoma County Sol at 7:30 in the comfy confines of "Fort Finley"  Chattanooga is the top ... (click for more)