Former Tacoma Police Chief of Staff suing department over alleged racial discrimination

Apr 26, 2024, 9:37 AM

tacoma police racial discrimination...

Exterior of Tacoma Police Department Headquarters (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Former Tacoma Police Department Chief of Staff Curtis Hairston claimed he faced racial discrimination within the agency and was wrongfully fired in October, and now he’s filing a lawsuit.

The suit was filed last week in Pierce County Superior Court, claiming the department’s hiring practices were racially biased.

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“Curtis Hairston came to Tacoma, Washington in 2022 to try to help address racial biases and inequities within the Tacoma Police Department,” the lawsuit read, according to the Tacoma News Tribune. “Unfortunately, over the next year and a half, Mr. Hairston would be yet another in a long line of victims of insidious racism and discrimination within (TPD) and the City of Tacoma.”

In addition to the department’s hiring practices being allegedly biased and discriminatory toward Black applicants, the lawsuit also claimed discipline was handed down unevenly between Black and non-Black employees in the department. It also made mention that Tacoma Police’s program regarding racial bias and violence in policing was significantly stripped down.

Hairston is suing for discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination and hostile work environment, and the suit is seeking a trial and unspecified damages, legal fees and other relief deemed appropriate by the court, according to The Tacoma News Tribune.

Only four Black officers were hired during Hairston’s stint, according to the legal filing, while Black officers comprised just 3% of the staff.

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The Tacoma News Tribune reported Hairston was accused of using his position to get a job for his stepson, but that complaint was eventually dismissed.

The department has declined to comment on the lawsuit, as of this reporting.

Contributing: Tacoma News Tribune

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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Former Tacoma Police Chief of Staff suing department over alleged racial discrimination