US Atty, DOJ investigating workplace treatment of Black troopers in Maryland 

A pattern-or-practice probe opened by the Justice Department and Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office was announced on Friday.

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The Department of Justice is joining state officials in looking into allegations of racial discrimination in the hiring and promotional practices of the Maryland State Police, according to a report from The Washington Post. 

A pattern-or-practice probe opened by the Justice Department and Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office was announced Friday. It will be conducted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

The Justice Department announced Friday that a federal probe had began into whether the hiring and promotions at the Maryland State Police have been racially discriminatory. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, and Col. Woodrow W. “Jerry” Jones III, its secretary of state police, have both pledged their cooperation with the investigation, according to a press release.

“This office strives to protect the civil rights of all Marylanders, including the rights of our sworn law enforcement officers,” said Erek L. Barron, U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland. “This investigation also furthers our mission to restore trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve by ensuring fair employment practices by police departments.” 

Barron served for six years in the Maryland legislature as a lawmaker and was a member of the Legislative Black Caucus. He was appointed last year as the first Black U.S. attorney in the state. 

“These allegations aren’t new,” Barron said in an interview with The Post. He noted that the inquiry will also help achieve his office’s “mission to restore trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve by ensuring fair employment practices by police departments.”

“Discrimination has no place in any workplace, and especially in law enforcement agencies,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our investigation will determine whether the Maryland Department of State Police has created racially discriminatory barriers for Black people seeking job opportunities and promotions and, if so, identify the reforms necessary to ensure equal employment opportunities. All communities deserve law enforcement agencies that are built upon principles of fairness and equity.”

It was a Maryland state trooper with 12 years of service who first began to sound the alarm of bias at the organization. Byron Tribue filed discrimination complaints with the NAACP and the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus and even wrote a letter to Gov. Hogan.

“It’s been hell because you know there is injustice going on,” Tribue told The Post. “But the more you speak up, the more of a target you become.”

He said Friday he already feels vindicated by the federal investigation. “This is huge. I want to cry right now.”

Several open complaints about the department are pending with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and a law firm has been hired to file a federal lawsuit. 

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