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Suit charges racial bias in Police Dept.

  • The Greenfield Town Hall Recorder File Photo/Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, February 27, 2018

GREENFIELD — Reacting to a news report of a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against the city by two of its police officers, Greenfield City Council President Karen “Rudy” Renaud called for the city to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination and bullying Tuesday.

Pointing to questions of bullying in town over issues regarding Greenfield Community Energy and Technology, Renaud said she and the city didn’t act sufficiently over that case. She said her fellow councilors should be spurred to action by this lawsuit claiming the department’s lone black officer was not given a promotion in part because of his race, and the another officer suffered retaliation in connection with the matter.

“Whether this case in particular proves to be something with or without merit, (a zero-tolerance policy is) something we should’ve done years ago,” Renaud said.

The complaint was first filed in Hampshire Superior Court by Greenfield Police officers Patrick Buchanan and Todd Dodge against the city about a year ago, but news of it surfaced this week.

“Whether you’re an elected official, an employee, the mayor, there’s no place for this in Greenfield,” Renaud said. “If it doesn’t start with us, where is it supposed to start?”

The Hampshire Superior Court case does not currently have a trial date set. The last movement in the case was in September, according to the clerk’s office at the court. It’s currently in “discovery” stage and that this procedure is expected to last through to the summer, Buchanan and Dodge’s lawyer Timothy Ryan said Tuesday. After discovery, the case could move forward to a pretrial date. Ryan did not provide further comment on the case.

Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh, named in the complaint, did not comment, per his protocol of not discussing open court cases.

Mayor William Martin said he cannot comment on personnel matters but said regarding the police department’s hiring policies, within the context of this case and allegations of racial discrimination: “Demotions and promotions are based on merit and performance.”