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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended December 08, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 06Dec00

By Kent Larsen

Mesa Police Officers Claim Discrimination By LDS Superiors

MESA, ARIZONA -- In a third major incident this year involving the heavily Mormon eatstern Phoenix suburbs of Mesa and Gilbert, a group of nine disgruntled police officers have filed a discrimination lawsuit against their department. The lawsuit claims that the department illegally favored other officers over them because of race and religion. The Mesa police chief is LDS and the officers claim that their superiors favored LDS officers over them.

The officers filed their lawsuit Monday, deciding not to wait for the results of a departmental Board of Inquiry, called last June by Chief Jan Strauss to investigate the officers' complaints. Strauss said she received a report back from the Board of Inquiry last week, and will meet with the board this week to clarify some issues. "I am anxious for all the facts to come out," Strauss said. "I think it's very unfortunate that they've chosen to file a lawsuit when we've taken steps to address their issues. I think it's very unfortunate that they've chosen to file a lawsuit before we had the results of the Board of Inquiry."

The officer's complaints include claims that they were passed over for promotion in favor of lesser qualified officers because of religion and refused transfers because of race and religion. One officer says he was forced to resign "because he complained about an unfair and unjust policy . . . that was depriving [him] of valid overtime pay." Another said he "has not received transfers because the person making the decision was LDS and selected less-qualified and trained LDS officers."

Earlier this year, the the East Valley Chapter of the NAACP filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Gilbert  Unified School District, saying that the district discriminated against blacks. That lawsuit also claimed that the district favored Mormons over everyone else. And an October article in the Los Angeles Times connected a violent and racist gang in the area with the local LDS culture.

But LDS officials are participating with efforts to correct the problems with racism in the community. Gilbert-area stake president John Lewis is serving as a president of the Gilbert Diversity Task Force at the invitation of Gilbert's Mayor.


Mesa police officers accuse department of discrimination
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 5Dec00 D1
By Paul Matthews: Arizona Republic


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