Photo courtesy of the Talking with Henrietta television show.
This photo shows former East Palo Alto Police Officer Richard Barries, during his appearance on the 2009 Talking with Henrietta television show titled, Youth Events Can They Make A Meaninful Difference? See a video excerpt from the show by clicking here.
Amid the recent charges of racism that four African American police officers filed against East Palo Alto's former Police Chief, Ron Davis, another African American police officer claims that he had a different experience working under Davis.
Richard Barries, a former East Palo Alto police officer, who is a sergeant with the Stanford University Department of Public Safety, copied several members of the press on an email that he sent to Magda González, East Palo Alto's city manager, in which he denied that he was subjected to racism or unfair treatment when he worked with the East Palo Alto Police Department.
Barries wrote his email in response to the formal complaint filed with the City of East Palo Alto by Sgt. Roderick Norris, Sgt. Renaldo Rhodes, Officer Paul Norris and Officer Charles Hines. In their complaint, the four police officers said that they were subjected to racial discrimination and a hostile work environment that was fostered within the East Palo Alto Police Department by Davis.
Barries, who worked for the East Palo Alto Police Department for nearly three years, stated that he did not witness any of the discrimination or hostility that his former fellow officers cited in the complaint that they filed against Davis.
In the email that was sent on November 17, Barries stated,
The officers' complaint and Barries comments come in the wake of Davis' resignation from the East Palo Alto Police Department on Friday, October 25, 2013.
Davis formally left his city position on November 8 to start on November 12 in Washington, D.C. as the director of the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
In their two-and-a-half page complaint, dated November 1 that was addressed to the the city’s Assistant City Manager, Barbara Powell, the four officers cited at least eleven examples to support their charge that African American police officers were subjected to "abrasive, belittling and dismissive" treatment within the East Palo Alto Police Department.
They cited as examples in their complaint that:
"There have been no African American female police officers hired during Chief Davis' tenure. There have been no African Americans to serve in the Investigative Division at the rank of detective. There have been no African Americans [to] serve in the Traffic/Motor Division. Until mid 2013 only one African American male had been hired to serve as a police officer."
The four officers also said, "We believe [Davis]... has engaged in an ongoing pattern and practice of discrimination against past and present African American employees which amounts to a violation [of] Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California Assembly Bill 1825."
The four officers ended their complaint by stating, “We are seeking immediate relief and remedy to Chief Davis’ outrageous practices and unfair treatment.”
Powell described the officers' charges "as a confidential personnel-related complaint." She added, "The City immediately began undertaking appropriate actions as soon as it received the complaint."
When asked what policies and procedures the city is using to respond to the complaint, Powell replied, “The City of East Palo Alto takes all allegations of discrimination very seriously, looks into them very carefully and will take appropriate action as needed.”
To this writer's knowledge, other than Powell's limited comments, there have been no public comments by East Palo Alto council members or other city staff regarding the four officers' complaint.
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Henrietta J. Burroughs, the author of this article, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.