Lieutenant Thomas Glover, President of the Black Police Association, sat down with the Observer last week and gave some insight as to why the BPA asked for Chief David Brown’s resignation this past March. While many media outlets painted the BPA’s and other unions' calls as a response to Brown suddenly announcing a plan to change the schedules of about 600 officers, putting them on evening and weekend shifts in response to the uptick in crime, Glover says that this wasn’t the reason BPA was calling for him to resign. Brown's retirement is effective October 22. Here’s what Glover had to say (edited for clarity and length):
Glover: We looked at four and a half years of decisions. It wasn't a hasty decision. It was based more on how we felt he was treating us as an association. If I am required to run the 40-yard dash in four seconds to get a meeting with you, but you give other people meetings and they run a 40-yard dash in 10 seconds, things like that, we felt that there were major discrepancies in what we were required to do.
So, we had some issues and people made it personal since I was a president that it was something that I dreamed up and I didn’t. I talked to people in the community, I contacted elected officials. I talked to clergy, grassroots community organizations, citizens. ... It wasn't something that we did blindly.
I've known Chief Brown for all his career. He and I were members of the same church forever. I heard his first sermon. He was an assistant pastor at the church where I was at. So I don't have anything against him personally. I didn't precipitate the meeting that led to this. I participated in it, I led the meeting and as president and leader of the association, I stood out front with an X on my forehead and my chest and my back. I told my board that night, I said, ‘You guys know what you all have done?’ They said no. I said, ‘You put an X on my forehead, my chest and my back.’
There were people who threatened me. There were people who said I was done, that I should resign from the police department. People told me I should retire and leave and they offered to come help me clear out my desk. There were some threats that were nastier than that that I don't care to elaborate on and these were people who are supposed to be leaders in our police department and in our community. I never, ever listened to it or bowed down to it because I felt like my credibility and my history and the skin that I had on the wall would outweigh what they were doing and it did.
I think every day I come to work that I'm going to be retaliated on in some form or fashion through an involuntary transfer, through being moved to the graveyard shift, to having an assignment that nobody wants. In fact, we voted to put out the information we did probably five days, four days before there was any discussion, serious discussion about people having to go back to patrol and work from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. And losing their weekend days.
Observer: So, the main reason was the relationship with the association?
Glover: If I am the president of the black police association and I can't get an audience with the chief of police and other associations can, then something is wrong. Everybody as an association president should be treated the same. Everybody should have access or no access to the chief. Our association felt as though we were being left out. We knew that we would be ridiculed and attacked, but it was very serious and we had good reasons.
There were people who we felt were highly qualified that should have been promoted, that had Masters' degrees and that were in Ph.D. programs and were veteran police commanders and were skipped and not promoted. People who took the elevator to the top floor instead of climbing the stairs were promoted. And there was a situation in our department where we didn't feel like efforts were being made to diversify the department at the intensity that we thought was necessary. We had academy classes where they're all white. No blacks, zero blacks. We hadn't had that happen in years.
This department went through some major turmoil in the '80s and one of the things that came about was, hey, you need to recruit more minorities, women, blacks, Hispanics, Asians. And so a bunch of things went into that decision.
It went down to the creation of a rank of major. In our department, when you reached the rank of lieutenant, anything above this has to be an appointed rank by the chief of police. It has to be approved by city hall and the city manager. So there was another rank created called major. Nobody supported it except us at the request of the chief. (We were) thinking that, ‘Okay, the diversity in that rank will be good,’ and when he got approval for that rank, there was virtually no diversity. That was one of the things we were like, ‘Wait a minute.’
I knew most of the same people that Chief Brown knew, and this organization had built a reputation with him 20 years ago. From '94 to '98, I was second First Vice-President and from '98 to 2004, I was the President. And I have built a coalition with people like (senator) Royce West and (former mayor) Ron Kirk, and a lot of the religious leaders, (pastor) Freddy Haynes, people like that. I think the only reason I survived (calling for Brown’s resignation) was because of that. Otherwise, like I said, I still think people are gonna come at me. I really do. I've never let my guard down, never. I still think there are people out there in the Department and outside who would love to see me suffer some type of retribution because I stood up and made remarks about something that needed to be talked about.
When this came about and when it came up, we were like, ‘You owe us the same courtesy with our leadership as you do with anybody else. You can't have one association president who can walk up on the sixth floor, knock on your door, and walk in. And you have another one, or two or three more who have to call and get appointments and then you deny them appointments, or you don’t ...'
Observer: Why do you think there was this discrepancy in treatment?
Glover: I don't know. I couldn't tell you... I can tell you that up until 2012, everybody thought that I was one of David Brown's favorite sons. I made a decision when I was in personnel on an individual and after I made that decision, I went home for six months on family medical leave and by the time I got back, I had been transferred to the evening shift in the jail. And I didn't want to believe it, but everybody told me, ‘This happened because of the decision you made in personnel.’
But to answer your question (about the discrepancy in treatment between association), I have no idea. I do believe a lot of our members and a lot of our board felt like we were not given the same treatment as some of the other groups standards, or the ability to meet with him. The bar was set a lot higher, those type things. And so we didn't take that decision lightly. It wasn't a decision that was hastily made that's why I say we looked at...We went all the way back to the summer of 2012, and we discussed decisions that he made from 2012 all the way to March of 2016. Almost four years of decisions and we evaluated him, talked about the impact they had, what kind of information he had when he made those decisions, what did they do to blacks on the department, and the vote was taken.
And it wasn't designed to be a public annihilation the way some people say it was. It was designed to be us talking to the counselor, the mayor, and the manager. And somehow someone forwarded a letter from the counsel to the manager’s office to the media, and we wound up having to talk about it within 24 to 48 hours after we did it, which was not planned.