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Black Columbus Police Lieutenant Cleared Of Misconduct


Columbus Public Safety Director has cleared an African-American police officer of three allegations of misconduct.

The Columbus Division of Police demoted Lieutenant Melissa McFadden in response to allegations that she created a hostile work environment and had a “black militancy mindset.” Chief Kim Jacobs recommened McFadden be fired in May, following an Internal Affiairs investigation.

Public Safety Director Ned Pettus said the division didn’t prove McFadden violated equal employment opportunity laws. Pettus has the final word over the firing of Columbus officers.

"We are letting the safety director speak on his decision," a Columbus Police spokesperson said in a written statement.

In June, McFadden sued Columbus Police for discrimination, claiming she was targeted by commanding officers.

“We believe those charges were actually brought against her in retaliation for assisting another African American officer in filing her own charges of racial harassment," says lawyer Sam Schelin.

McFadden said she was reassigned to a demeaning post in the property room, rather than desk duty like most officers in similar cases.

“When these charges were brought against Lt. McFadden, she was immediately taken off of her assignment and placed in a humiliating position in the property room where she was denied overtime," Schelin says.

Despite the verdict from Pettus, Schelin says they are pushing ahead with a federal lawsuit all the same.

“She is relieved that the report, that Director Pettus, did the right thing, but her rights were still violated," Schelin says.

McFadden is seeking potential lost overtime. McFadden is on leave for an injury, which she sustained while working in the property room, but will return as a lieutenant in the field when she’s cleared for work.

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.