ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) – There are new details emerging about three Alexandria Police Department lieutenants who are involved in a legal battle with the Alexandria Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board.
The officers claim that they were racially discriminated against when they missed a deadline to sign up to take a promotional exam for the position of captain. The officers took those claims to the City of Alexandria, and the City filed a restraining order stopping the May 23 exam date on their behalf.
News Channel 5 has received the initial complaints that Lt. Reginald Cooper, Lt. Ronney Howard, and Lt. Patrick VanDyke filed with the Civil Service Board before reaching out to the City. As News Channel 5 has learned from their letters, all three contradict themselves, and two even mention that they saw the posting on the bulletin board.
On May 7, Lt. Cooper submitted a letter to the Civil Service Board. He said he was away from headquarters during the time test was posted and working at the narcotics division. He claims he spoke to other lieutenants in APD who said they knew nothing of the announcement. Lt. Cooper went to speak with Barbara Bordelon, the secretary of the Board. She advised him to file a grievance, but he claims she told him “you’re not going to win.”
Lt. Cooper said it made him question if the notification was even posted. He also claims that all past promotional tests have been posted online, but as News Channel 5 learned last week from documents we received, that was not the case because the Civil Service Board is only required to post notices of the tests to designated bulletin boards.
Three days later, Lt. Howard also filed a letter after being approached by Lt. Cooper. He said he hadn’t heard anything about the test, but after checking the bulletin board he saw that it had been posted and the deadline had already passed on April 14. He, too, went to Bordelon, and he claims she told him it was his responsibility to read the bulletin board. He also claims that five black lieutenants and Deputy Chief Cedric Green, who is also black, had no idea about the test, and that only two white lieutenants had knowledge to apply.
However, according to a list provided to KALB by APD, there are actually nine lieutenants who were able to take the test. Only three of them were black, the other six were white. Four of them also didn’t apply.
Finally, a day after Lt. Howard submitted his letter, Lt. VanDyke submitted one too. He was also made aware that the test date past by someone else.
Lt. VanDyke was upfront about missing the sign up, “I will readily admit that I did not check the designated Civil Service Board.” But he did say that it is a common practice to be notified electronically. Lt. VanDyke also said he was on vacation 25 out of the 30 mandatory notification day period. However, as News Channel 5 reported, the position was posted for 51 days.
Lt. VanDyke also claimed that one of the lieutenants who signed up was on extended sick leave, but still had knowledge of the test. He calls it “intentional and deliberate act to hinder certain individuals from taking the exam.”
These grievances will be heard by the Civil Service Board at a meeting on Wednesday, June 7.
In a hearing on this matter last week, we noticed there were several attorneys with the City as compared to the single attorney for the Civil Service Board, Brian Cespiva. Many of you wanted to know how much this was costing taxpayers.
We sent a Freedom of Information Act to the City requesting how many attorneys they have on the case, and the amount the City is paying them. They told us Steve Oxenhandler and Mike Oshee are counsel for the City. Their rate is $175 per hour.
Cespiva, who is also paid by the City, is making $140 per hour.
The lieutenants have also hired attorney Daniel Broussard to represent them personally. They are responsible individually for his cost.
You can check out the full statements by the lieutenants, as well as related stories in the side bar.