KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Officer suing Seattle police for gender discrimination accused of gender bias

Mar 13, 2024, 5:55 PM | Updated: Mar 15, 2024, 11:34 am

Inset: Headshot of Seattle Police Department (SPD) Captain Deanna Nollette; Primary photo: An SPD v...

Inset: Headshot of Seattle Police Department (SPD) Captain Deanna Nollette; Primary photo: An SPD vehicle parked (Both photos courtesy of the SPD's SPD Blotter)

(Both photos courtesy of the SPD's SPD Blotter)

When Seattle police veteran Deanna Nollette sued the department, alleging gender discrimination, several officers said they found it ironic. They told The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH Nollette is “notorious” for mistreating female officers. Several staff members alleged that she warned female officers against getting pregnant.

Captain Nollette accused the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and Chief Adrian Diaz of wage, job and gender discrimination. Amongst her complaints, Nollette claimed Diaz suggested female officers act as cheerleaders during an SPD flag football team that was meant to be a “team building exercise.” But in a series of interviews, several female SPD employees told The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that Nollette routinely “picks on” women and has a “bias” towards men.

To make their point, these SPD employees said Nollette insulted pregnant officers with a comment at a meeting with her unit. The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH provided confidentiality to four sources in this story because they are not permitted to speak on the record regarding personnel issues within the SPD and feared retribution.

“There were three people in the room that were pregnant. She basically made the comment that like, ‘can you all schedule your pregnancies at different times so you’re not messing with the unit… or staffing …'” one female SPD employee explained to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. It’s uncertain whether Nollette was aware the employees were pregnant at the time.

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Was this an off-color joke? Criticism of pregnant Seattle officers? Proof of gender bias?

One SPD staffer believed Nollette was attempting a politically incorrect joke: “It was rude. But she’s horrible. I’m still flabbergasted.” But in the context of the lawsuit against Chief Diaz, the staffer noted the irony.

“Are you f*****g kidding me? You’re going to complain about a flag football game? Seriously?” she remembered thinking when she read about the lawsuit. She said she’s never had any problems with the chief.

Two other female SPD staff members told similar stories to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, independent of each other. Both said they were in the room at the time of the comment, sometime in the summer of 2021.

“In front of everyone, Nollette said she wanted people to stop getting pregnant or we all needed to do a better job scheduling with each other because it was hard for her,” another source explained. “She was trying to joke but it came off bad … Coming from female Command [Staff], it was downright ridiculous and it was in a room of like 30 people so it spread like wildfire.”

Two additional SPD sources said this incident has resulted in a recent complaint to the Office of Police Accountability (OPA). The OPA did not respond to requests for comment.

Nollette’s reputation before gender discrimination lawsuit

A number of sources, almost entirely female, said they have had run-ins during Nollette’s 27 years with the department. While she has some defenders, many critics said she only looks out for herself, befriending women only when it benefits her.

“[She is] notorious for not playing fair or nice with females so it’s really ironic that she’s talking about misogyny and not playing fair. She has always shown a bias for men and against women,” one colleague told The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Concerns over Nollette’s character were deeply personal for former SPD Bomb Squad Detective Randy Curtis. He said his wife fell victim to Nollette’s unprofessional behavior.

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Allegations of turning on a friend

Randy Curtis said he and his wife Pilar were personal friends with Nollette. According to Curtis, he and his wife, also an SPD Detective at the time, would socialize with Nollette and her husband, and their friendship deepened over time. During this period, Pilar worked under Nollette in the Domestic Violence (DV) Unit.

But Curtis said their friendship soon soured.

In 2016, Pilar started experiencing memory lapses, which were later identified as the early stages of dementia. As these memory issues became noticeable, Pilar was reassigned from the DV Unit. Curtis said he encouraged his wife to talk with Nollette, only to discoverer that Nollette played a part in the reassignment.

“When it was brought to Nollette’s attention that Pilar was displaying memory issues, Nollette ordered everyone in the DV unit to compose a memo describing everyone’s observations and their interactions with my wife and any memory lapse issues that they noticed,” Randy Curtis alleged to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. An officer confirmed this account to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Randy Curtis said throughout all the medical issues, Nollette never spoke to his wife.

“She [Pilar] never heard a word from this woman who was a personal friend,” Randy Curtis explained.

Pilar died on August 21, 2022, at just 58 years old.

The comments in context of gender discrimination lawsuit

The alleged comment by Nollette does not mean her allegations of gender discrimination against the SPD are unjust. And some officers have conceded privately to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that while they don’t view the department as sexist, they do believe it can be cliquish. But if there is a cultural problem within the department where women feel dismissed or diminished, Nollette may have played a role.

The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH repeatedly reached out to Nollette’s attorney Judith Lonnquist for comment, but did not hear back. The SPD did not provide comment.

Lonnquist, speaking to KUOW, said Nollette is now a victim of retaliation. Two months after filing her lawsuit, Nollette said she was moved to the night shift. Her attorney called the decision “a retaliatory act to intimidate other women in the department who have also experienced discrimination.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram, and  Facebook.

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