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Columbus Sued Over Alleged Discrimination In Police Academy Acceptance

 The newest class of police recruits running through the police academy parking lot
Columbus police academy file photo

Two Black men are suing the city of Columbus, claiming they were rejected from the police academy because of minor previous offenses, while the division accepted white candidates with more troubling backgrounds.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus by Moses Iverson and Darren Kendall says they both applied for the police academy in April 2019. The suit says police rejected Iverson over a previous failure to pay back taxes and collections issues, as well as being accused of making an inappropriate comment in the workplace. The suit says the accuser later wrote him a letter of recommendation.

The lawsuit says police turned down Kendall because he frequently changed jobs and had two minor traffic incidents while working as a Columbus trash collector.

Last summer the Ohio Civil Rights Commission dismissed similar complaints from Iverson and Kendall.

The suit claims the academy instead accepted several white candidates with previous offenses including soliciting prostitution, statutory rape, having sex in the workplace and use the use of illegal drugs including heroin and cocaine.

"These same, similar, or far more egregious issues did not stop the city from hiring Caucasian applicants who, quite frankly, have no business being a police officer," the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit seeks damages to be determined at trial. A spokesman for the Division of Police referred questions to the Department of Public Safety. The Department of Public Safety released the following response: "We are not able to comment on pending litigation, but we can state the City does not engage in, or tolerate, discriminatory hiring practices."

Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.