HUPD Officer Sues Harvard Police

A Harvard University Police Department officer has filed a complaint against the University for discrimination.

The plaintiff, George F. Pierce, alleged in the complaint that Harvard was “intentionally discriminating against him on account of his race and color.”

The complaint, which was filed last month, said that HUPD “acted with evil motive and with reckless indifference to Pierce’s rights.”

Pierce, who is African-American, has worked at Harvard since May 2002 as a patrol officer.

Since 2002, HUPD has promoted nine patrol officers to sergeant status, none of whom were minorities, according to the complaint. Pierce was the only applicant of color to apply for the sergeant position, according to the complaint.

Pierce’s attorney Ellen J. Messing said that Pierce hopes that his case will result in his promotion to sergeant.

Before coming to Harvard, Pierce worked for 21 years for the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, according to Messing.

“He believes his qualifications are at least equal to or better than the Caucasian officers,” Messing said.

“He wants a bias-free procedure for handling these promotions,” she said.

The University declined to comment for this article.

“The HUPD will not comment on personnel matters and pending litigation,” Steven G. Catalano, HUPD spokesperson, wrote in an email.

The complaint alleges that the Department “created and maintained a racially-biased environment” which was supported by top management. According to the complaint, supervising officers have made openly racial statements such as “I hate blacks,” have used derogatory terminology, and have complained that HUPD “had” to hire more African-Americans.

“It takes an enormous amount of courage and tenacity to file a lawsuit against one’s current employer,” Messing said.

The complaint requests that HUPD promote Pierce to the position of sergeant and pay for the compensatory and punitive damages incurred during the case.

Pierce is undeterred by concerns that the complaint will strain his relationship the University or HUPD, Messing said.

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