D.C. Assistant Police Chief Chanel Dickerson said she was told at the beginning of her career that she would either have to have an abortion or lose her job with the Metropolitan Police Department.
“When I was 18-years-old as a police cadet, I was told I had to have an abortion or be fired from the MPD [Metropolitan Police Department] cadet program,” Dickerson said during a community meeting Tuesday. “Wow. My choice to have a baby was personal and it should’ve been mine alone and not for an employer ultimatum.”
Dickerson, who has been with the Metropolitan Police Department since 1998, said she never became a mother. She is one of 10 Black women who are suing the Metropolitan Police Department for $100,000, alleging they experienced “an enterprise-wide culture of race and sex discrimination,” according to The Hill.
The suit claims the women “came together as a class here to describe how the MPD has, for decades, treated black women police officers with contempt, to the point of systematic psychological abuse.”
The plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit filed last month are a mix of current and former female D.C. officers. They allege in the suit that each of them complained to superiors and the equal opportunity department several times about unfair treatment on the basis of their race and gender but were ignored.
Another suit was filed on behalf of three Black women this week, who are all former D.C. police cadets. They allege in the suit that they were retaliated against and mistreated after they cooperated in an internal investigation against a superior, FOX5 reported.
Dickerson, who is now the highest-ranking Black woman within the department, shared another story on Tuesday about another female officer who was allegedly mistreated.
“Fast forward from that time, I think about how my female colleagues, when I was promoted to sergeant. And it was another sergeant who was promoted with me and she needed a shift that was conducive to taking care of her child as a single mother. Unfortunately, she had to do things no woman should ever have to do to care for her child,” Dickerson said at the community meeting at Unity Baptist Church in Northeast where she was joined by other D.C. police officers who are part of the class-action lawsuit.
Following the claims by Dickerson, D.C. officer Karen Arikpo also came forward, saying she was also told to terminate her pregnancy while she was a recruit in the police academy in 1997.
The Metropolitan Police Department is yet to respond to Dickerson’s claim. It however said in an earlier statement that it could not comment on pending litigation but “is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout our organization”, NBC News reported.