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Monserrate touts settlement in NYPD suit

Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona) applauded a recent settlement of a class-action lawsuit that requires the New York Police Department to pay 45 Latino and black NYPD officers a total of $26.8 million to compensate for discrimination they experienced within the department.    

The suit, filed in federal court in 1999, charges the NYPD with racially discriminatory practices ranging from assigning black and Latino police officers to the worst precincts in the city more frequently than white officers, to more severe injustices involving minority officers who were fired from their jobs for alleged violations that were later found to be untrue or too minor to warrant dismissal.

“This settlement agreement provides the NYPD and the city of New York an opportunity to correct past wrongs by making those who were affected whole and implementing reforms that will provide transparency and consistency in the NYPD,” said Monserrate, a former city cop and vice president of the National Latino Officers’ Association.

Monserrate was a plaintiff in the case and a driving force in the filing of the suit.

“I look forward to working with the administration and the police commissioner in implementing necessary changes to a system which has not treated minority officers equitably,” the councilman said Saturday.

According to Anthony Miranda, 42, the executive director of the National Latino Officers’ Association who spearheaded the class action suit, the settlement was reached early last month, but the case was sealed until Saturday by the federal court in Manhattan, where the suit was filed.

A further court decision on the settlement was expected to be handed down within the next 30 to 60 days.

In addition to paying out money, the NYPD has also agreed to institute measures within the department to help prevent racial discrimination, including the creation of a special unit to analyze discrimination and disciplinary measures taken against officers.

“I’m satisfied that for the first time we’ve been able to get systemic changes within the Police Department, to expose the entire disciplinary process,” said Miranda. “It’s in the best interest to be able to change the system so that we can protect not only the officers that are still working, but the officers of the future.”

Miranda is a former NYPD sergeant who retired after he was transferred to the worst precinct in the city in East New York, Brooklyn, during his 22nd year in the police force. In 1996, he decided to organize a class action law suit instead of continuing to help individuals to file separate suits. His goal was to create systemic changes within the NYPD in addition to getting compensation for officers who had been racially discriminated against.

“Mostly the city and the Police Department had fought with us all through the process of negotiations,” said Miranda, who is Puerto Rican. “But they came to terms with the reality of the situation.”

Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or call 718-229-0300, ext. 155.

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