A black Hempstead Village cop hoping for a promotion to sergeant said at community meeting Thursday night he fears he won’t get a fair shot at moving up because of his race.
Det. Steven Wilson Jr. said he and another black officer, Raquel Spry-Dacres, are currently the top two names on the sergeants list, based on their sergeants’ exam scores taken in 2013.
The list’s results were supposed to expire in November 2016 but were extended by a year following a sergeant’s death, Hempstead Police Benevolent Association president Chris Giardino said in a statement.
Another scheduled exam was given in June 2016 and the results came out this past March. The top five officers on that list are white men, Wilson said.
Now, Wilson said he fears Police Chief Michael McGowan will delay new appointments until his exam results expire in November and choose from the five white officers for a promotion to sergeant.
“We took a test, we prepared ourselves, just like everyone else did,” Wilson, 44, said before the meeting at Jackson Memorial AME Zion Church in Hempstead and sponsored by the 100 Coalition, an organization of pastors from Hempstead, Lynbrook and Roosevelt.
About 30 people attended.
The Rev. Malcolm Byrd, pastor at the church and a member of the coalition, accused Mayor Don Ryan and McGowan of trying to get the “clock to run out” on the older list.
In a statement, Ryan said: “There is always a next person on the promotions list. Promotions of sergeants are based on test results. Any accusations of discrimination in our police department are unfounded.”
Wilson and Byrd also said that McGowan has promoted other officers despite saying there aren’t any open spots.
Giardino said while the association “would like to see its members be promoted, we are under the impression that there are no openings available.”
In a statement, McGowan said the department has 20 supervisors below the chief, nine of whom are minorities. He said eight of those nine were promoted during his tenure as chief. There are just under 130 officers on the force, village officials said, and about 60 of them are minorities.
“The administration of the Hempstead Village Police Department takes pride in its successful efforts towards diversity in relation to hiring, promotion and departmental assignments,” he said.
Wilson said his fight isn’t about his 20-year career but about the minority officers who will follow him.
“I care about this community. This community raised me,” he said. “My position here is not an indictment of my fellow officers.”
Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP’s New York State Conference, said she’s “appalled” at the situation.
“We’re not asking for affirmative action,” she said at the meeting, noting she plans to reach out to Ryan in an effort to get Wilson and Spry-Dacres promoted.
Giardino said in his eight years in the department, he has not seen the village or McGowan discriminate against the officers.
“The Hempstead PBA stands with Chief Michael McGowan and Mayor Don Ryan and we will continue to support them,” he said.