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First Black Female Police Captain Sues City For Racial Discrimination

After three months after her history setting promotion, New Haven’s Police Department’s first black female police captain is suing the city alleging racial and gender discrimination dating to 2012 according to New Haven Register:

Police Capt. Patricia Helliger filed the civil complaint at Superior Court in New Haven last week after the complaint was released by the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities on Feb. 29 — 10 days after her ceremonial induction at City Hall.

While neither the city nor the department would comment on the suit, city data shows the department’s personnel is more than 50 percent minorities and women. The department also has done recruitment drives within the city – even going door-to-door – in an effort to draw residents into the ranks.

Yet, Helliger claims discrimination delayed her promotion to captain. Helliger has worked with the department for more than 20 years and is responsible for helping develop a program that’s helped shrink the department’s arrest warrant backlog.

Helliger is represented by East Haven attorney Patricia A. Cofrancesco. The city of New Haven is listed as the first defendant, with Police Chief Dean Esserman listed as an additional defendant. Cofrancesco said Esserman was added because some alleged acts in the civil complaint involved him.

Cofrancesco alleged the discrimination against Helliger did not end with her promotion to captain.

“I think it’s kind of ironic that the city celebrates its first African-American female police captain, but at the same time, she gets treated so badly, even after she was promoted,” Cofrancesco said.

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