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Black Police Officers Plan to Appeal MCAD Ruling on Promotion

Lawyer Says Agency Did Not Hear Case Adequately

By Julian E. Barnes

The lawyer for two Black police officers who charged Cambridge with discriminatory promotion policies said yesterday she will appeal a ruling against her clients made earlier this month by the Massachussetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).

Arguing that the state agency did not allow her to respond to the city's defense against her clients' complaint, attorney Hinda Magidson said she planned to seek a hearing with the MCAD's investigating commissioner to appeal the decision.

"For some reason someone didn't want the case hanging around," Magidson said. "We never got a chance to say, 'Hey, this is crazy, this is not true.' We have answers to those things that were alleged, and we were denied that chance to respond."

"[The MCAD] decided there was no discrimination and that is not true," Magidson said.

MCAD ruled on April 18 that there was a lack of a probable cause in a complaint filed by Cambridge Police Sgts. Lawrence Edwards and Garfield E. Morrison Jr.

Lawrence and Morrison charged in a March 7 complaint that recent changes in the Police Department's promotion system discriminate against minorities, and that they were denied advancement as a result.

Under the old system, officers were promoted according to the results of a civil service exam. The scores of the officers taking the exams were ranked in order on a list, and promotions were made in order until the list was used up and then new tests were administered.

But under the new system, instituted on July 26, 1988, a new test is given every two years, generating a new list which supersedes the old one. Morrison and Edwards charge that because of the slow rate at which officers leave the force, minorities cannot move far enough up on the list to gain promotion.

They also charge the list is being changed so the city does not have to appoint an additional Black lieutenant. The Cambridge police force currently has two Black lieutenants and no Black captains.

Insufficient Evidence

"[O]ur investgation of the complaint filed by [Morrison and Edwards] did not reveal sufficient evidence of an unlawful act of discrimination," said Alex Rodriguez, the investgating commissioner on the case, said in a statement released with the decision.

Rodriguez was not available for comment on the case but MCAD spokesperson Judith K. Wright said that there was nothing improper with the agency's investigation.

"The law charges us with neutrally investigating each case. There are no regulations on the investigative process," Wright said.

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