For Roosevelt Holiday, the "bat cave" reference was just a night-shift cop's feeble attempt at humor. A 43-year-old Dallas police officer, Holiday used jokes to soothe the jumpy nerves of new recruits he once trained to patrol predominantly minority neighborhoods in southern Dallas. Often the trainees were white. Holiday is black.
"They had never been around black people before," the 17-year department veteran recalls of some of his charges. "Just being in a roomful of them made them uncomfortable.
"I'm Batman, and you're Robin," Holiday, a squarely built man, would tell the trainees in hope of joshing them into confidence.
In that same vein, Holiday frequently would steer the rookie cops to his "bat cave," a desolate parking spot behind a graffiti-covered abandoned grocery store off Kiest Boulevard. There, Holiday says, the trainees could finish paperwork while getting a feel for their beat.
"I liked to take the recruits back there to expose them to what's in the neighborhood," Holiday says.
But in 1995, when Holiday directed Stacey Wychopen to the bat cave, the young white recruit didn't get the joke. Neither did former Dallas Police Chief Ben Click.
Days after Holiday completed a three-week training session with Wychopen and gave her a poor evaluation, she filed a complaint against the veteran officer. Wychopen claimed that Holiday had slept while on duty in his "bat cave." The department's internal affairs unit initiated an investigation.
Holiday, a senior corporal, initially denied he ever slept on the job, but conceded in his second interview with the department's internal affairs officers that he took allergy medicine that sometimes made him drowsy.
He had reason, however, to be optimistic about the outcome of the review. His record was clean. With 13 years at the department at that point, he had earned 30 commendations and an award for saving a colleague's life. (Holiday had stanched the flow of blood from another officer's life-threatening neck wound.) Since 1992, Holiday had trained almost three dozen recruits with no complaints. In contrast, in her short time at the police department his accuser had so annoyed another trainer that he refused to take Wychopen out in the field.
Besides, everyone knows cops sometimes take catnaps without dire consequences. Chief Click had that same year issued only a written reprimand to a white officer discovered sleeping in his patrol car. The fatigued cop had parked at the end of a dead-end road hidden in trees, lain back in his seat, and stuck a pillow behind his head -- a clear indication of premeditated snoozing.
But somehow Click -- and Holiday's lawyer and black police association leaders later argued the reasons had everything to do with the color of the officer's skin -- regarded Holiday's snoozing worthy of more severe punishment. In November 1995, Click disregarded the advice of two supervisors who advised Click that, at most, he should suspend Holiday. Instead, Click fired Holiday for sleeping on the job and for failing to own up to the mistake. Click, who denies that he ever meted out discipline on the basis of race, says he canned Holiday because he had set a bad example in front of an impressionable trainee. Six months after his firing, however, Holiday appealed to Assistant City Manager Levi Davis and won back his job. He then filed a lawsuit against the city, demanding back pay. Last June, the city paid Holiday $76,000 in a negotiated settlement.
But complaints about disproportionately harsh discipline for African-American cops do not stop with Holiday. Leaders of the Dallas chapter of the Texas Peace Officers Association, which represents most of the 603 blacks among the 2,859 officers on the force, have long and futilely complained to city officials that the Dallas department punishes African-American officers more severely and more frequently than it does their white counterparts. In particular, the black leaders hold Click responsible.
"Click always played well with the white establishment, but we didn't buy it," says Donya Witherspoon, a lawyer who represents Holiday.
If Click and other Dallas officials give the TPOA's claims short shrift, the federal government is paying attention. In August, the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division informed city attorneys that it would investigate allegations that the police department is racially biased in how it disciplines officers. The Justice Department asked the city for 10 years of police disciplinary and personnel records.
Although the federal lawyers aren't talking about their investigation, the Dallas Observer obtained some of the same information sought by the Justice Department. Using a computer to sort through years of records, the Observer found that the numbers suggest that what the TPOA has long contended is true.
If the Justice Department pursues a case against the city -- and civil rights lawyers familiar with the law and the data say the chances are good that it will -- Holiday's victory will represent a beginning. The federal lawyers could ultimately seek a court ruling that would compensate hundreds of black officers who suffered discrimination and require the police department to create new rules to eliminate the problem. The city also could be placed under the watch of a court-appointed monitor who would oversee the department's discipline practices.
More than two decades have passed since Justice Department lawyers came down from Washington to stop racially biased hiring practices at the Dallas Police Department. Only five months ago, Terrell Bolton became the first African-American police chief in the city's history. But if the federal lawyers proceed, Dallas cops will once again be in the news as bigots.
"It's embarrassing, and this is not the first time they've been to town." says Edward Cloutman III, a civil rights lawyer who has worked with federal lawyers before on discrimination claims.
When Roosevelt Holiday went before U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater, the black officer learned what high obstacles plaintiffs in individual employment-discrimination cases face. Holiday's lawyer identified 21 instances in which white officers had committed offenses she claimed were equal to Holiday's alleged sleeping and untruthfulness. But the judge ruled that only two of those examples met the rigorous legal standards for comparisons in discrimination cases -- standards that require the examples to be similar in almost all aspects. Both instances involved a white officer of Holiday's rank who had allegedly violated departmental rules in front of a subordinate and then lied about it to internal affairs. Those officers were suspended, not fired.
The Justice Department could face less rigorous standards if it presses a broader discrimination claim. The federal government, Cloutman says, most likely would pursue a "pattern and practice" case of employment discrimination. Named after the language in the federal statute upon which such lawsuits are based, a pattern-and-practice case would not require the department to find a matching white officer for every black cop who they allege has been disciplined more harshly. Instead, Cloutman says, "The Justice Department will have to establish strongly through statistical analysis that race is the best predictor of whether an officer will be disciplined harshly." Then federal lawyers would have to establish that the trend was not mere chance but the result of a historic pattern of discrimination.
Justice's litigation in the '70s against the Dallas Police Department might help make the case. Federal lawyers came to the city twice to negotiate plans to stop the department from discriminating in its hiring.
Cloutman says that he would expect the Justice lawyers eventually to identify specific cases in which black officers were fired and white officers were suspended for comparable misdeeds. But the numbers are the key, Cloutman says, and the premise is straightforward: Everything else being equal, black and white officers should be disciplined roughly in proportion to their numbers on the force. In a department like Dallas', in which approximately 21 percent of the officers are African-American, that means you would expect black officers to receive about 21 percent of the firings, suspensions, reprimands, and other disciplinary actions, but that's not the case. The question facing the Justice Department is, Why not?
Using a computer to sort and count two decades of records obtained from the police department, the Observer found a stark contrast between the way badly behaved white and black officers were disciplined. Some examples:
·· ·Between 1990 and November 1999, internal affairs investigators substantiated 2,689 allegations of misconduct ranging from insubordination to felonies. (Some officers had multiple allegations, and some single incidents involved several infractions.) Thirty-eight percent of those cases involved black officers; 47 percent were against whites. Keep in mind, only 16 percent of the department's sworn officers were black in 1991, while 75 percent of the force was then white. Today, 21 percent of the officers are black and 64 percent are white. (Hispanics were targeted in 12 percent of the sustained allegations and accounted for 7 percent of the department's sworn officers in 1991 and 13 percent now.)
··· White officers had better odds of getting the charges against them dropped. Of the 4,350 allegations that were dismissed for various reasons since 1990, 60 percent of those had targeted white officers but only 26 percent named blacks.
··· If allegations were sustained, however, black officers faced a greater likelihood of getting punished more severely than their white counterparts. Of the 1,373 allegations since 1990 that resulted in punishments harsher than written reprimands (everything from a temporary demotion to a five-month suspension to termination), 46 percent of those were meted out to black officers, 42 percent to white officers. The upshot: In a police department with less than one-third black officers, close to half of the allegations that resulted in discipline harsher than a written reprimand were against African-American cops. (Hispanics accounted for 10 percent of the allegations that resulted in such discipline.)
For the TPOA officers, the statistics are plenty illustrative. "Just look at the numbers," says Sgt. Thomas Glover, president of TPOA. But Cloutman says that ultimately Justice will need to refine the figures even further.
"As a rule of thumb," Cloutman says, "those statistics, an almost 200 percent disproportion, represent a starting place." The Justice Department will have to run further computer analysis to rule out other variables, making certain, for instance, that sex, education, or length of service are not stronger predictors of who is likely to be disciplined. (Such analyses could not be performed with the information provided to the Observer.)
Yet there are those -- former Chief Click among them -- who firmly believe that race does not entirely explain why black officers are more likely to be disciplined.
The notion that black cops get rougher discipline has kicked around Dallas for almost a decade.
In 1992, a year before Ben Click arrived from Phoenix, then Executive Assistant Chief Robert Jackson, at the time the department's highest-ranking black officer, told The Dallas Morning News: "People may feel in their minds that they are being fair. But if you look at the numbers, there is some partiality...The administration, like someone going to AA, needs to admit there's a problem."
At the time, Jackson offered no figures or examples to support his contention. Nor did Jackson or any other executive officer take on the issue as his or her personal responsibility. (Jackson, who has left the department, could not be reached for comment.)
"The chief [Click] spoke about fairness," recalls Manuel Vasquez, who was a co-executive assistant chief with Jackson, "but there was never any specific officer assigned to monitor the problem." When asked why, given the prospect of federal intervention now, the department leaders didn't take more action, Vasquez seems mystified. "I cannot answer that even myself. As leaders, how do you address it?"
For his part, former Chief Click believes he did what he could. "The best thing you are going to do is set a tone," says Click, who is now retired and lives in Phoenix.
The city's longest-serving police chief in nearly 40 years, Click presided over a nearly 10 percent increase in minority hires and adamantly denies that he allowed racism to flourish under his watch. Asked in a September 1998 deposition for the Holiday case whether he had ever disciplined somebody because of race, Click responded: "First of all, I've never done that, and I'm not going to tolerate anybody that does that."
In a telephone interview from Phoenix, Click questioned whether the sorts of numbers facing Dallas are unique.
"There is a lot of history to this," Click says. "In almost every area of our society, we find these people over-represented like this." The former chief referred to a recent case in Decatur, Illinois, in which a federal judge upheld the expulsion of six black high-school students who brawled with other students in the stands at a football game. Their expulsion prompted protests led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson. A national study of 10 school districts released in the wake of the Decatur case found that "zero tolerance" disciplinary policies at public schools have led to black students being expelled or suspended at a rate that is disproportionate to their numbers.
"This kind of reflects our whole society," Click says.
While Click's generally pessimistic acceptance of racial disparities might raise skepticism about his suitability for the job of tackling such problems in his own department, Click swears that he never let race enter into his decisions on discipline.
"I usually didn't know the officer's race," says Click, who had the last word on disciplinary actions during his tenure. Shortly after taking office in 1993, Click says, he purposely assigned a black man, Assistant Chief Willie Taylor, to oversee the internal affairs department. When TPOA officials came to Click anyway and complained about alleged discrimination, the former chief says, he told them he had an open-door policy. Any officer could tell him about supervisors who sent black officers to internal affairs for investigation and allowed white officers to escape with little or no punishment for similar offenses
"If you show me a supervisor who does that, I'll fire him," Click says he told the TPOA officers.
Experience is the real issue behind the disparity in the numbers, Click says. By hiring more blacks, particularly young officers, the department attracted a new, less-disciplined crowd. "Young officers have not had as much exposure to the rules," he argues.
The statistics don't suggest racial disparities in discipline increased during Click's reign, as TPOA leaders contend. But they show little support for his theory that only as the number of young blacks entering the department increased did African-Americans start receiving discipline in disproportionate numbers. Black cops were disciplined at an equally disproportionate rate from 1990 to 1995 (before Click started hiring more minority recruits) as they were in the latter part of the decade.
More than Click, TPOA leaders say, it's the structure of the disciplinary system at the police department that allows racism to stay alive. Specifically, the department has no written requirements for when a supervisor (typically, a sergeant) must send a subordinate to internal affairs for documented discipline -- the kind that stays in their permanent records and harms their chances for promotion. In the case of a cop taking a catnap, for example, a Dallas police sergeant could drive by, yell "wake up," and be done with it. Or, he could set up the snoozer for an internal affairs investigation. There are now 279 white and 61 African-American sergeants at the department.
Despite the broader issues at stake, Click remains a sore spot for black officers -- perhaps because he came into the department with the promise of improving race relations, generally received credit for doing so, but nonetheless failed to deal directly with the disparities in discipline.
TPOA's Glover remembers tracking down Click in the parking lot of the downtown headquarters building to ask him to focus on the problem. "I waited for him at his car because I couldn't get an appointment," Glover says.
Glover and the other TPOA leaders eventually worked their way into the chief's office several times. They showed Click studies they had produced assessing two years' worth of disciplinary records. But Click, Glover says, "just treated it as if we were giving him a bunch of rhetoric."
The TPOA leaders didn't fare much better when they took their studies to city council members, assistant city managers, and Mayor Ron Kirk.
Twice, in July and September 1998, the black officers met with Kirk. The mayor briefly considered hiring a private consultant to review the disparate discipline problem, but in September 1998 he balked at the high cost of such a study. "He didn't want to pay for it," says Lee Bush, TPOA vice president.
But the mayor didn't want the black officers inviting the U.S. Justice Department to look at the problem either.
"'We don't need to be discussing this if you're going to Washington,'" Glover recalls Kirk telling them. (The mayor refused to comment for this story. His assistant said the mayor was angry over a column by Observer staff writer Jim Schutze concerning city council member Al Lipscomb's bribery conviction. See Mayor Kirk's letter on page 3.)
In December 1998, the TPOA leaders did what Kirk didn't want them to do: They lugged voluminous files full of disciplinary records to the Justice Department Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. For the TPOA leaders, the trip represented the culmination of months of work. They had spent hours compiling data, keypunching in much of it because the department had been unhelpful about turning over computerized files. "It was a game of cat and mouse with the records," says Donya Witherspoon, who helped TPOA compile the records.
Glover says they networked with officers to try to uncover cases in which whites had received only informal reprimands in instances in which blacks had notations placed on their employment records. "Those are hard to find because sometimes only two people know," Glover says.
For some among the group of outspoken African-American police officers, the cause was personal.
Lee Bush, for instance, had his own job at stake. A detective serving in the personnel division, Bush had written a letter in July 1997 objecting to his division's practice of sending white officers to out-of-town recruiting trips (where they earned heaps of overtime pay) more frequently than their black counterparts. His bosses responded, Bush later alleged in a lawsuit, by transferring him to a patrol unit, suspending him for two days, and effectively denying him a promotion.
In the 42 trips taken to schools in a four-year period, the personnel department supervisors had invited blacks 13 times, and 11 of those forays were to predominantly black universities. More than 40 percent of the officers eligible for the trips were black.
"I thought, 'Someone needs to do something about it; it might as well be me,'" recalls Bush, 41, a graduate of Grambling State University.
What Bush did was guaranteed to provoke a response. He wrote a letter to Click that referred to then Deputy Chief Raymond Hawkins, who was in charge of personnel, and Bush's other superiors as a "klan."
"I thought it was a creative way of getting their attention," Bush explains with a broad smile.
Hawkins, who has since left the department and did not respond to requests placed with his lawyer for an interview, took it personally. Hawkins, who is white, already had acquired a reputation of being hostile to black officers. In July 1995, Morning News staff writer Nora Lopez reported that Hawkins told her about police job applicants: "If we picked the best candidates right now, they would all look like me." In a deposition, Hawkins later denied making the remark, but Lopez testified that he did.
Bush insists that his use of "klan" was not a racial epithet. Moreover, Bush says, his bosses knew he didn't mean the term literally. Several of the people he was referring to -- such as Manuel Vasquez -- were Hispanic.
When the letter angered his bosses, Bush initially expected help from Chief Click. "I was one of these type of guys, I thought I had pretty good rapport with the chief," he recalls. "I caught him in the basement one time when they had stopped me from traveling. He said, 'I understand, Lee. I'm going to look into it.'"
But in July 1998, Click suspended Bush for two days, alleging that he had "demeaned or ridiculed officers" with his "klan" letter. When Bush returned to work, he was transferred from the personnel division to the patrol unit. Because of the suspension, he was effectively denied a promotion to sergeant.
In February 1998, Bush, who currently is on medical leave, filed a federal lawsuit against the city and named Click, Hawkins, Vasquez, and his other white supervisors individually as defendants. Bush had previously filed several claims with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC concluded that the department had violated Bush's civil rights by retaliating against him for making a discrimination complaint. When the city refused to resolve the claim, the EEOC sent Bush's complaint to the Justice Department.
Last April, Barbara Meacham, a lawyer in the civil rights division who had already begun working with TPOA leaders on a department-wide pattern-and-practice case, informed city lawyers that the Justice Department would investigate Bush's case.
Click also learned that same month that Judge Fitzwater had denied his motion to dismiss Holiday's case, in which Click had been personally named as a defendant. The judge ruled that Click did not qualify for immunity as a public official.
In some respects, the judge let the Holiday claim just squeak by, allowing him to use only two of the 21 comparative examples his lawyer had raised in her filings. Holiday could compare, the judge ruled, his treatment to that of Frank Gorka, a sergeant who allegedly had failed to take appropriate action after his subordinate damaged a civilian's car. Gorka was alleged to have lied about the incident to internal affairs investigators. Gorka, who received a three-day suspension, could not be reached for comment.
The judge also allowed Holiday to compare his circumstances to those of Sgt. Curtis Fowler, a white officer whom Click disciplined the same year he fired Holiday. Five allegations against Fowler were sustained -- all of them whoppers. He allegedly placed all the telephone lines in the Traffic Division on hold to avoid calls from a woman he had a romantic relationship with. He allowed a subordinate to conduct private business while on duty. He reported to an overtime assignment in uniform and smelling of alcohol. He made a racially derogatory comment when criticizing an accident report prepared by a black officer. And he was untruthful in an internal affairs interview -- the same allegation Holiday faced. Click simply demoted the white officer. "He had served the department for a long time," says Click about the 25-year veteran. Fowler has left the police force and could not be reached for this story.
But if length of service counts, Holiday was no newcomer either. He was not one of the African-American fresh recruits that Click claims accounts for the disparities. A native of Greenwood, Mississippi, and a former Army captain, Holiday is described by his lawyer as a "true believer in the police department" and "a guy who just wanted his stripes back." But somehow Holiday, who doesn't even maintain a membership in TPOA, touched a raw nerve with Click.
"A bat cave is where bats go to sleep," Click grumbled in his deposition about the officer's joke. "You can't see the graffiti back there anyway when your headlights are turned off."
Holiday has no love for his former chief either. "Click's attitude when it came to blacks -- they didn't get the benefit of the doubt," he says.
Now that he has won his job back and his $76,000 settlement, Holiday has returned to night patrol. He is content with his settlement. He chose police work, he says, because he "wanted to be in the mix of things." So far, however, Holiday hasn't returned to field-training new recruits. "I don't have the feel for it anymore," he says. "That incident ruined it for me." But the new night hours allow him to pick up his two daughters from elementary school, and his settlement has helped him repay the money he took from their college funds while he was off duty.
Holiday says he eagerly answered all of the questions the Justice Department lawyers had about the events surrounding his case when they interviewed him two months ago. He says he wants all officers -- black or white -- who were unfairly disciplined during the former chief's administration to be cleared. "Chief Click was a politician that knows PR, but he could care less about his officers," Holiday says. "I don't think race has anything to do with it. Someone has to be honest and fair."
As far as the idea of a bat cave being known as a place where officers sleep, he says, echoing the sentiments of other cops, "That's a bunch of crock."
By the time Click announced his decision to resign from the department on August 5, the claims of disparate discipline were beginning to gain momentum. Fitzwater had ruled against Click's motion to dismiss Holiday's case, and the officer had received his settlement in June. Justice had announced it was investigating the Bush case, and the federal lawyers were obviously preparing to investigate the department as a whole.
Click insists his decision to depart was unrelated to the litigation and allegations. "I had been a police officer more than 30 years," he says. "I wanted to spend time with my grandchildren."
But Assistant City Manager Charles Daniels, who oversees the police department, views the timing of Click's retirement as a remarkable coincidence. Daniels recalls how surprised he and City Manager Ted Benavides were to learn that Click, who still had events on his calendar for the next year, wanted to quit. "'Do you have a few minutes?'" Daniels remembers Click asking him and Benavides one day in August. "He walked into Ted's office, and he told us he had come to a decision one morning to leave."
By the time Click revealed he was retiring, the Justice Department was just weeks away from informing the city that it would investigate the claims of racial bias. At that point, Click was already making himself scarce. "He wasn't really available. He took quite a bit of time off [prior to his departure]," Daniels says. "I'm sure he is aware of the timing. It's almost a little scary."
On August 31, the Justice lawyers wrote a letter to the city lawyers clarifying that they intended to investigate not just Bush's case but the department as a whole.
"We have received information indicating that the Dallas Police Department may be engaged in discriminatory employment practices on the basis of race," the letter states. The federal lawyers said they did not yet have sufficient information to determine that the police department had applied discipline "unequally on the basis of race, resulting in a disproportionate number of black officers being suspended and terminated."
The Dallas City Council didn't learn about the Justice letter until a week later. It was only after Harold Cornish, another black police officer who had his own discrimination claims against the department, sought a copy of the letter that the city attorneys informed the politicians what was coming down the pike. Cornish had been criminally charged with trying to bribe a co-worker in exchange for favorable test scores, with releasing inaccurate police records, and with official oppression when he wrenched the neck of a suspect. The officer claimed that the allegations were filed in retaliation for his complaining of racial discrimination. All charges against Cornish were dismissed, but Assistant District Attorney Clark Birdsall, who TPOA officials complain has prosecuted misbehaving black officers more often than he has whites, later refiled the official oppression charge.
TPOA officials blame Janice Moss, the assistant city attorney who approved many of the disciplinary decisions Click made during his tenure, for the delay in releasing the Justice Department's August 31 letter. (She denies their claim.) "I don't see a discriminatory pattern," Moss told the Morning News in September.
As the Justice investigation has continued, however, Moss has begun referring reporters' calls about the case to her boss, Madeleine Johnson, the new city attorney.
"We take any investigation seriously," Johnson says. Because of the potential litigation, she would not comment in detail about the Justice investigation, but she did distance herself from the past. Referring to the new police chief, Benavides, and herself, Johnson notes: "We have a whole new set of players. Everyone is very concerned with correcting any problems."
Wiping the slate clean clearly ranks as a priority for the new chief, Terrell Bolton, who assumed Click's job in October.
A 41-year-old native of Western Mississippi, Bolton came to the Dallas department when he was 21. It took him 20 years, but by 1999 Bolton -- who had the word "Negro" stamped on his entrance fingerprint card -- was a shoo-in for the top job. Assistant City Manager Daniels says it was never necessary for Bolton to interview for the post. Benavides wanted no "lapse in leadership," Daniels says, and he wanted "someone from the inside." So the city manager considered two choices other than Bolton: Manuel Vasquez and Robert Jackson. Both men, who have since left the department, could play roles in the Justice investigation. Vasquez is named as a defendant in Bush's lawsuit. Jackson, who is black, first raised the question of disparate discipline.
With his hands positioned on his belt loops, Bolton bounced around behind his desk with a big smile on his face. "What are we talking about today?" he asked the half-dozen reporters who had crowded into his office in mid-October after waiting an hour for the new chief to appear for a news conference of sorts.
The day before, a letter from the Justice Department announcing that it intended to intervene on Bush's behalf was made public. In it, the Justice lawyers said they wanted to have Bush offered a promotion to sergeant, retroactive benefits, seniority, monetary relief, and compensatory damages. They also wanted his personnel records expunged of the related charges. "The City of Dallas should institute procedures to monitor the actions of supervisors (sergeants and above) to insure that they do not retaliate against employees of the Dallas Police Department for making allegations of race discrimination against the Department," the Justice lawyers wrote.
Dozens of reporters had called the new chief. Bolton, only a few weeks in office and still talking to reporters (he declined to comment for this story, citing pending litigation), agreed to meet with the local journalists all at once. Bolton made it clear that he held Click accountable for the Bush allegations, which he seemed to accept as fact on the basis of Justice's intervention in the case. "The lawyers are working with Justice, so I don't want to get into specifics," he said. "We all know I wasn't chief then. The decisions were in [Click's] command."
About the Justice Department's findings supporting Bush, Bolton said, "It doesn't surprise me. It disappoints me. I can't turn back the hands of time. My focus is getting the department in a position that this doesn't happen."
A week earlier, Bolton had removed Bush's former supervisor, Deputy Chief Raymond Hawkins, from his position over Northeast patrol and placed him over the communications division. Hawkins subsequently quit.
When Bolton was asked at the conference whether Hawkins' transfer was related to the Bush case, he said, "I think you can draw your own conclusions."
Publicly, Bolton stresses these days that he will be fair to blacks and whites alike. At a luncheon speech in November before a largely black audience, the new chief told a story about his birth. He had come out in a hurry, his mother had told him. "She didn't think I was coming so fast, so she looked up at my father and she said, 'I can't come up with a name.'" It was the Anglo doctor, Bolton said, who named him Terrell. "I am the product of people that worked together," he said. "I will be that way always."
For TPOA leaders, the new black chief does not allay their concerns about discipline. "I believe the fact that we have an African-American as a chief of police will be used to act like we have a solution," Glover says. "Well, it isn't."
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If the Justice Department decides the police department has racially discriminated against officers, Bolton may face a whole new set of rules and bureaucracy intended to ensure that the top brass don't treat any employees differently because of their color.
In late November, the Justice lawyers asked the city for a slew of data "to move the investigation along," they wrote. They also asked to interview Bolton and other current and former top-level officers. Justice also wanted to talk with the presidents of the four Dallas police associations. (The city is negotiating with Justice and Bush over his lawsuit.)
For lawyers who have looked at the numbers and know the history of the city with employment-discrimination claims, the odds appear strong that Justice can, if the agency is so inclined, build a case.
"If they get shy, it won't be because of the facts," says civil rights lawyer Mike Daniels, who has opposed the city in housing-discrimination claims. TPOA's Glover is more blunt: "They'll make a case unless somebody gets to them."