Miss NAACP and Black State Troopers Calling for 3rd Party Investigation Into Highway PatrolBy Daniel Cherry | Published 08 Sep 2011 09:24am |
The Mississippi NAACP and attorneys for African American state troopers are calling for an independent investigation into the state highway patrol. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how both groups are questioning whether the Department of Public Safety can conduct an appropriate internal investigation.
At their state headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi NAACP President, Derrick Johnson, says there are serious problems in the way which officers are promoted at the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
"It was not based on merit. It was not based on the best candidate. It was based on a standard that was highly biased and prejudiced against officers within the ranks black and white, but specifically it disproportionately impacted African Americans."
The Department of Public Safety is conducting an investigation into whether promotion exams were leaked to certain candidates to give them an advantage. Valerie Hicks Powe is an attorney for the Mississippi Central Troopers' Coalition. She says the Justice Department or another independent group should also investigate.
"The fact that the test was stolen and provided to others suggests the integrity is compromised and that individuals have no reason to believe in the highway patrol. These are the people who stop us on the street. These are the people who come to our aid when we are in need of assistance. The integrity of that organization, it's imperative that we restore that."
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour announced an investigation had begun late last month into the testing scandal. He says the results for all exams have been thrown out.
"Anyone involved with any impropriety related to this testing will be severely punished. We won't have anymore for you on the DPS investigation until it's finished."
This is not the first time the agency has been accused of wrongdoing. In July 2009 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it found evidence of discrimination within the highway patrol. It forwarded its findings to the U.S. Justice Department.
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