AUSTIN -- More than a dozen Austin police officers recently transferred from an elite division have filed complaints alleging they were victims of race and age discrimination.
The complaints, submitted to the Texas Workforce Commission from 13 former members of the organized crime division, are the first step before possibly filing a lawsuit in state district court.
“We think this is an attempt to weed out some older officers, some Hispanic officers and some black officers, for reasons that, quite frankly, look discriminating,” said Mark Crampton, an Austin attorney representing the officers.
The KVUE Defenders, in collaboration with the Austin American-Statesman, obtained copies of the newly-filed complaints over the weekend.
Police officials deny discriminating against the officers within the division and say they had other reasons for the moves, including the need for a cultural shift.
The allegations come after about 19 officers, including supervisors and the divison’s commander, were reassigned to other jobs, including patrol duties, late last summer.
Each had been members of the high-profile division, which has about 85 officers who conduct investigations into crimes such as drug and human trafficking, prostitution rings and gang activity.
They included the division’s commander and several lieutenants and sergeants as well as rank-and-file officers.
Union officials contend that the simultaneous transfers of the division’s leadership could threaten future investigations, which they said frequently requires input from experienced supervisiors.
“There are sting operations, there are high-profile narcotics operations — those kinds of things that are very sensitive and dangerous,” said Sgt. Wayne Vincent, president for the Austin Police Association.