Infighting In Buffalo

Via The Buffalo News:

Six African-American police officers who were promoted by the Buffalo Police Department earlier this year say they’ve been harassed and “treated like criminals” by their police union and fellow officers for accepting provisional promotions from the commissioner against their union’s directive.


Officer Deidre Carswell recalled how excited and honored she felt when the administration offered her a temporary promotion to lieutenant. The police academy instructor said she was proud to participate in the promotion ceremony, attended by the mayor, police commissioner and chiefs. Since then, however, she said she and her five fellow officers have been ostracized by other union members.


“We were blackballed,” she said.


In January, the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association brought union charges against the six officers who accepted lieutenant and detective promotions. The union had urged its members to reject the promotions because of an ongoing civil service dispute with police administrators. Before then, other officers were provisionally or temporarily promoted without the union objecting.


“You’ve got six black officers who’ve taken these provisional promotions, and now it’s the crime of the century,” said William Johnson, a 30-year patrol veteran who was promoted to detective.


PBA President Kevin Kennedy said that before the city offered the latest promotions, union leaders passed a resolution stating its members must reject any offers because the department has not held a competitive civil service promotional exam since 2012 and the existing list expired last August. The union had no idea who, if anyone, would accept the promotions.


“Our position on this came out long before we knew who would be promoted,” Kennedy said. “This is not a race issue, and it’s insulting that they would even raise that.”


Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said he believes the Police Department is in compliance with civil service law and that provisional appointments are a commonplace occurrence and should not be considered controversial.


“We’ve done it in the past with no objections,” he said.


The promotions have led to rifts within the union. Several of the promoted employees interviewed by The Buffalo News said they’ve faced hostility and harassment from their peers, as well as racist comments on social media.


Kelly M. Craig, a 10-year officer who was promoted to temporary patrol lieutenant, said she started to fear for her safety after she heard some officers in D District say they would no longer back her up on the street.


“We get enough hostility from the people we serve every day. We shouldn’t be getting this from within our own ranks,” said Craig, who is preparing for redeployment to Afghanistan next month as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve.


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