Almost all of the 15 Black officers at a Tennessee police department say they've experienced discrimination and feel the promotional process is unfair, according to an independent review, per NBC News.
In Knoxville, Police Chief Paul Noel, who was brought on in June, commissioned a review of the city's department amid years of allegations of racist behavior and policies.
The recently released external review, which was conducted by consulting firm 21CP Solutions, cited focus groups and anonymous surveys from almost all of Knoxville Police Department's 360 sworn officers and 100 nonsworn personnel.
“If you are a Black officer, you have to work five times harder, and officers will always second-guess you,” one anonymous officer said, per the review.
Another said, “When applying for posted positions and training, if more than one Black officer applied for a job that has multiple open slots, only one Black officer would get selected, and the other one would be told to wait until the next posting.”
Only about a third of the department's 15 Black sworn officers said they believed that they had a voice within the organization or that their supervisors were receptive to their concerns, the review found. Twelve of the Black officers said they faced racial discrimination at the hands of the department. Black officers were also the least likely to say they felt there was a clear process for de-escalating internal issues.
Noel told NBC News he ordered the climate assessment before he was sworn in as chief because he wanted to receive feedback from employees in an honest way. He called the findings from the review "pretty clear."
“These are all things that people in the community and the police department anecdotally knew,” Noel said. “But this is the first time we had a jumping off point to actually create change.”
“We did not get into this mess overnight, and we’re not getting out of it overnight,” he added.