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Police officers sue Columbus and officials for enabling culture of discrimination

A dozen Columbus police officers are suing the City, alleging racial discrimination within the Division of Police. Plaintiffs include white and black officers, current and former employees. The federal litigation filed Wednesday claims the city was aware Commander Melissa McFadden created a racist work enviroment, providing inaccurate performance reviews for officers based on their race by favoring black employees.

Allegations about McFadden led to an internal investigation in 2017. Then Safety Director Ned Pettus concluded the following year there was not sufficient evidence to fire McFadden.

In her own civil lawsuit, McFadden alleged actions taken against her - including reassigment to the police property room - were in retaliation for exposing a climate of racism within the police department. She won that lawsuit in federal court in June 2022, and was awarded $2.

The suit filed Wednesday names the city, Mayor Andrew Ginther, former Safety Director Pettus and current Safety Director Robert Clark and alleges city leaders did nothing to curb the hostile work environment created by McFadden.

A lieutenant at the time of the original complaints, McFadden was later promoted to Commander, and remains with the Division.

City officials have not yet publicly responded to the allegations.

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.