Two white police officers who weren’t in support of diversifying the force were disciplined, and now they’re suing their police department and the governor of Michigan.
According to The Detroit News, Michigan State Police (MSP) Capt. Michael Caldwell was demoted by his supervisor while Inspector R. Michael Hahn was terminated. Their lawsuit argues that they faced punishment after they spoke out against MSP Director Col. Joe Gasper‘s push to open up more positions for minorities and women in the police force — a “diversity” move backed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
According to the two officer’s attorney, James Fett, the two want to “end blatant racial and gender preferences implemented to… satisfy the Whitmer administration’s clamor for affirmative action (racial and gender preferences) banned by referendum in 2006, and … placate minority advocacy groups that falsely accuse the Michigan State Police of institutional racism.”
Fett further wrote that the affirmative action directive “constitutes… a pattern and practice of racial and gender preferences designed to displace White males with minorities and females at all levels of the agency.”
During a field operations bureau meeting last fall, Caldwell and Hahn reportedly said that recruiting and promotions should be merit-based. “Given that the MSP was a majority White male agency, it was statistically reasonable to expect that the majority of MSP members that have risen to the upper command echelon are White males,” the suit says.
State police officials revealed that the two had been placed on administrative leave back in March for allegedly violating the agency’s promotions policy.
Hahn says he was fired after a “bogus investigation” not long after reporting off-duty comments made by a Black officer that he believed violated MSP’s discrimination and harassment policy. He had also been apart of an interview process for a staffer’s transfer request that Caldwell denied, says the lawsuit.
Caldwell and Hahn joined the police department in 1990 and they claim that they’ve never been disciplined before resisting the department’s directive, according to their fillings.
The men, who are in their 50s, say that their constitutional rights are being violated, citing the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, a 1976 Michigan law that bars discrimination based on religion, race, age, sex and other attributes. They also argue that a constitutional amendment Michigan voters backed in 2006 bans the consideration of race and gender in public hiring.
A spokesperson for MSP, Shanon Banner, said that the agency had “not yet been served with these lawsuits, so we haven’t fully reviewed them and the allegations made therein.”
“I can confirm that in late March, following an internal investigation that revealed they violated department policy related to the promotion process, Robert Hahn was terminated from employment and Michael Caldwell was demoted and reassigned,” Banner said. “We’ll reserve further comment about the merit of their allegations for our official response to these lawsuits.”
The lawsuits seek the reinstatement of both men along with damages and an injunction barring what it calls state officials’ efforts to impose racial and gender preferences.