NEW MILFORD -- A veteran black police officer has filed a grievance with the police union stating he has been the victim of racial discrimination by New Milford Police Department administrators.
Officer Ronald Young said administrators have rewarded less-experienced white officers with plum assignments for which he was a qualified candidate.
In a formal union grievance, Young said police commanders have intentionally excluded him from positions ranging from school resource officer to the detective bureau.
A copy of the three-page grievance was delivered anonymously to The News-Times.
Young said he is awaiting a resolution of what he considers an improper internal investigation into his response as backup to a new white officer on a call at Town Hall.
Most of Young's complaints, including favoritism and administrators' refusal to address serious complaints about officer and sergeant misconduct, are leveled at the command staff of Police Chief Shawn Boyne, Deputy Chief Mark Buckley, Lt. Larry Ash and Lt. William Scribner.
"It is common knowledge among the members of this agency that (the command staff) have promoted an organizational culture where certain members are afforded special and preferential treatment over others because of relationships and views," according to the grievance.
Young said he also has been the target of disparaging remarks, including a reference to him as "Black Ron." The department also has two white officers named Ron.
Young has been a member of the New Milford Police Department for more than a decade. He is one of two black police officers on the force.
The grievance also states Young and others in the department fear retribution from the command staff if they level complaints against supervisors, and that some of those who have been targets of complaints have been told who "threw them under the bus."
Police Chief Shawn Boyne said Monday he cannot speak to the specific allegations, but he said he will not tolerate a work climate where any officer is mistreated or disrespected.
"Absolutely not," Boyne said. "I think this office has been recognized since October 2010 (when Boyne was hired) as having a platform of transparency, not only internally to the members, but to the public in general.
"I asked for this investigation. I read the concerns in the grievance, and they are disturbing and they need to be immediately addressed to protect all the interested parties," Boyne said.
In the grievance, Young said complaints of misconduct, even threats against other officers, brought forth by union officials have been "rebuffed."
"Anytime allegations of misconduct are brought forth by the union, or otherwise, they have been vigilantly investigated," Boyne said.
Young's grievance suggests as a remedy that the town hire an independent agency to investigate.
Boyne voiced dismay that the grievance was released outside the Freedom of Information process, which would have protected the identities of officers.
"This is serious and not something the town will ignore," said Town Attorney Randy DiBella, who is scheduling interviews with officers named in the grievance.
"This is not something I want to languish here, but rather I want to look into it rapidly and thoroughly," DiBella said, adding he will offer an advisory opinion.
"As painful as it might be to others, I'll call it as I see it, and forward it where I believe it needs to be sent or recommend whatever actions I believe need to be taken," DiBella said.
"My oath is to get to the bottom of it."