WARREN (WWJ) – A Warren police officer is suing the city claiming her fellow officers don’t hurry to back her up on calls because she is black.

Officer DeShiela Howlett, a 10-year veteran, says there are a number of race-related problems within the Warren Police Department, including coworkers’ racially insensitive remarks about “ghetto names,” eating chicken and ribs, and comparing Howlett to a gorilla.

When one a coworker used the “N-word” to refer to an African-American resident who was upset in the police department’s lobby, that was the final straw for Howlett — the only black officer on the force in a city with a black population between 13 and 14 percent.

The lawsuit alleges a violation of Howlett’s rights (under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”), and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991) for unlawful employment practices and creating a hostile work environment on the basis of race and/or gender.

[View a copy of the lawsuit. NOTE: Contains graphic, offensive language]

“Since Plaintiff’s employment began as the first African American police officer in the City of Warren, Plaintiff has been constantly peppered with inappropriate, insulting, demeaning, racially stereotypical, and offensive comments, jokes, statements, conversations, and other conduct by her supervisors and co-officers while other similarly-situated white police officers have suffered no such treatment and/or conduct,” the suit states, and that the “Defendants repeatedly refused to support Plaintiff with proper backup and in a timely fashion due to her race and/or gender. The unlawful racially and gender biased customs and practices of the City of Warren Police Department endangered Plaintiff’s life and safety during her employment.”

There has been no comment so far from Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, who himself has been accused of making racist comments, or from the city’s police commissioner.


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