• 66°

Meridian Police Department Lt. Rita Jack claims gender discrimination by city

(AP) — The Meridian Civil Service Commission voted Tuesday to open an investigation involving the promotions of two officers in the Meridian Police Department.
Joseph Denson, the attorney for MPD Lt. Rita Jack, claims the city discriminated against Jack on the basis of gender.
Denson said his client began serving as acting captain under then Interim MPD Chief Lewis Robbins from February 2 to May 20.
Robbins resigned in April and the city council appointed Charles Coleman as interim chief in May.
Instead of remaining acting captain, Jack has been assigned to a training facility as a lieutenant, Denson said.
He said two male colleagues, including one who was a sergeant, have been put in the position of acting captain.
Denson said Jack applied for the position of assistant chief last September and both Robbins and Coleman implied that they would recommend her for the position.
Last month, according to Denson, Jack learned the assistant chief position was being eliminated – a process he said must be approved by the commission.
“Our position is now there has been signs and signals of discrimination because my client is not part of what you would call the ‘boys’ club,'” Denson told the commission. “She’s qualified in every aspect.”
Following the commission’s decision to open an investigation, many who attended the meeting in support of Jack broke into applause.
“I am pleased with the outcome,” Jack said, following the meeting. “I’m looking forward to it. We have a long road ahead of us. This is not the end of it.”
Meridian City Attorney Kermit Kendrick said the city maintains there was no discrimination against Jack and the assistant chief position has not been eliminated.
The commission is expected to give a status report on the investigation on July 14.