Latino cop files complaint against MPD

Spanish language paper has the scoop

Gente De Minnesota is reporting that Sgt. Giovanni Veliz has filed a complaint against the Minneapolis Police Department for, among other things, discrimination.

The problems go back to October 2004, according to the story, when Veliz was assigned to night patrol. While he was on that assigment, the paper says, "the Minneapolis Police department submitted Sergeant Veliz to harassment, disparate treatment, a hostile work environment, and retaliation from that date."

The complaint is with the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department--not a lawsuit, like Gente De Minnesota initially reported. It is surprising for two reasons. One, Veliz is a by-the-book cop by many accounts, adept at navigating the politics within the department and equally skilled at community outreach. He was often involved in the ongoing federal mediation sessions, and was the beneficiary of some promotions and reassignments by Chief Bill McManus.

Another more vexing point is that Veliz's supervisor, who apparently is named in the complaint, is Lt. Larry Doyle. Doyle, as first reported here on Blotter, is now the MPD's lead person on the Police Community Relations Council. The PCRC is an outgrowth the the federal mediation agreement signed by MPD, city and community leaders two years ago. As reported in this week's City Pages, the ouster of Doyle's predecessor and other mitigating factors have put the PCRC in a sort of state of emergency.

Word is there's a press conference on Veliz's complaint this afternoon. In the meantime, click through below to read the English version of the Gente De Minnesota story.

By Marco Fernanadez

Gente de Minnesota

Sergeant Giovanni Veliz, a Minneapolis Police officer, has sued [note: it is not a lawuit, but a civil rights complaint] the Minneapolis Police department for discrimination. According to confidential information we've received, the case goes back to October 2004, when Sergeant Veliz was relieved of his administrative duties, to assigned to night time patrol. According to a copy of the lawsuit that was provided to us, the Minneapolis Police department submitted Sergeant Veliz to harassment, disparate treatment, a hostile work environment, and retaliation from that date.

The [complaint] establishes that the actions were taken against sergeant Veliz because of his insistence in raising the issue that the department had not complied with a federal mediation agreement that was entered between the Police de department and members of Minneapolis minority organizations. The mediation agreement established that the police department would diversify the police department, establish partnerships with community based organizations, and foster cultural awareness and sensitivity for Minneapolis citizens.

This agreement included 82 action items that force the police department not only to incorporate Spanish speaking officers to the police force that know Latino culture, but also covers specific situations in which orders and notifications to Spanish speaking people included a Spanish translation.

This agreement was reached thanks to mediation from the United States Department of Justice Community relations office, and was supposed to have been implemented a year ago. The [complaint] also alleges that that in more than one occasion Sergeant Veliz was denied the opportunity to receive executive training in retaliation for his position in favor of implementing points of the federal mediation agreement. Veliz alleges that he was denied a promotion to police lieutenant, after having applied to the position and being qualified for the position.

The [complaint] accuses lieutenant Doyle, who became Veliz's supervisor in May of 2005, of harassing actions and threats against Veliz. The [complaint] establishes a direct relationship between Veliz's work on behalf of the Hispanic community and a number of consistent threats, harassment and comments against Veliz.

It goes even further, accusing the Minneapolis police department of refusing to implement the federal mediation agreement and ignoring the federal recommendations on diversifying the police department. Sergeant Veliz has received support ... from members of the African American community and the committee that negotiated the mediation agreement in 2003.