Brookline Police accused of ‘disturbing’ incidents against black officers

Brookline Police Chief Daniel O'Leary, here in 2010, said an independent investigation of the department is underway.
Brookline Police Chief Daniel O'Leary, here in 2010, said an independent investigation of the department is underway. –Pat Greenhouse / The Boston Globe

Brookline Police has hired an outside consultant to assess the racial climate inside the department after two officers alleged that they had been racially discriminated against by fellow officers and superiors.

At a meeting of the Diversity, Inclusion and Community Relations Commission last week, two minority officers spoke to the commission about racial incidents, The Boston Globe reports.

Officer Prentice Pilot, who has been with Brookline Police for more than 16 years, told 7News that he had applied for another job went he went to speak with a police command staff on December 4. He pulled up to the superior while in uniform in a marked cruiser.

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That staff member told Pilot to pull up on the sidewalk, get out of the car, and do some “n—– jumping jacks and I will put in a good word for you,’’ according to Pilot.

Another Brookline officer at the meeting, who said he has been working with police for three years, also spoke out about feeling unsafe on the job.

“As a black man I don’t feel safe working in this town. I’ve had racial comments said to me from a supervisor, fellow patrolmen, and I just don’t feel safe here,’’ the officer said.

On Tuesday, a group of Brookline residents attended a Board of Selectmen meeting intending to speak out about these complaints of racism, The Brookline Tab reports.

Yet Selectmen refused to listen, stood up, and walked out of the room, saying that the protesters had not signed up for public comment ahead of the meeting.

Allegations of institutional racism are not new for Brookline. In 2010, Brookline firefighter Gerald Alston, who is black, alleged that his white superior officer used a racial slur in a message left on Alston’s voicemail.

Since then, Alston says he has been ostracized by his fellow workers for complaining about the incident and his job is in limbo. Meanwhile, the offending superior was promoted, The Boston Globe reported last year. Alston was also present at the diversity meeting last week.

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Brookline chief of police Daniel C. O’Leary said in a statement that the department was “deeply concerned’’ about the allegations. An independent investigation by the town Human Resources department is underway, he said.

Separately, O’Leary also hired an outside consultant to assess the racial climate of the department.

“These allegations, though disturbing, will be dealt with and should not take away from the outstanding work the Department and our Members do on a daily basis,’’ he said.

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