Officials call on troopers to come forward

n The officers, who allege discrimination, have refused to meet with agency leaders.
By SHELIA BYRD
The Associated Press
JACKSON – Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson says the black troopers who are alleging discrimination won’t meet with agency officials.
And, he said, the group hasn’t provided any documentation to support their claims.
“Right now, it’s just yelling from the rooftops,” said Simpson, who met Thursday with a legislative committee that investigates state offices.
The state NAACP has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of the 208 black troopers who work at the Mississippi Highway Patrol. The group is alleging racial slurs, denied promotions and other unfair practices.
Simpson said he first learned of the allegations in October when the troopers sent an anonymous letter to Gov. Haley Barbour. Within the week, Simpson had appointed a panel made up of three attorneys to look into the matter.
“They have refused to meet with the committee,” Simpson said. “They have not received one shred of paper.”
Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the findings of the EEOC investigation “will speak for itself.” Johnson said his organization filed the grievance so the officers could remain anonymous while federal officials investigated.
Simpson told lawmakers the officers have no reason to fear retribution, but Sen. David Jordan, D-Greenwood, said he understood why the troopers would be reluctant to come forward.
“Usually where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” said Jordan, who chairs the legislative committee. “Some of them may have been working there for 20 and 25 years and retribution may be real to them.”
Sen. Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, tried to end all legislative meetings related to the troopers’ allegations because no one has come to testify before the committee.
His motion failed for lack of a quorum.

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