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The EEOC complaint was prompted by an incident involving Assistant Chief Diane Groomes, who was accused in November of giving the answer to a key question on a departmental examination to members of the MPD’s command staff. Chief Groomes was placed on administrative leave and had her police powers revoked pending an investigation. She issued a public statement apologizing for her actions and bad judgment. The investigation concluded that she did not “compromise” the test, the complaint states.

“Upon learning that Assistant Chief Groomes was not going to receive any discipline for her conduct, the complainants began to converse with one another and investigate whether, in fact, preferential treatment was given to [her] and whether preferential treatment was being given to sworn high ranking women officials on the department,” states the complaint. “This research unearthed a disturbing pattern of discriminatory conduct.”

The complaint states:

• Former Inspector Lillian Overton failed to report for a duty assignment and received a 10-day suspension without pay, but was promoted “instead of being demoted like her male counterparts.”

• Cmdr. Jennifer Greene was transferred but neither disciplined nor demoted “amid swirling allegations of misconduct in 2007.”

• In lieu of discipline or demotion, Inspector Dierdre Porter was transferred from her position as director of the disciplinary branch to administrative assistant to Chief Groomes despite research that shows “the chief of police was unhappy with her performance.”

• In 2008, Inspector Cleora Sharkey collapsed from stress and was put on sick leave for several months “instead of being demoted like Inspector Kevin Keegan, who received a demotion to captain while he was on stress related sick leave.” According to court papers, Chief Lanier said Mr. Keegan’s sick leave “did not set a good example to members of the command staff.”

The female command staff named in the complaint declined to comment.