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Judge: Colorado State Patrol harbors a homophobic culture

Thursday, July 19, 2012
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DENVER — A Colorado state Personnel Board judge this week said the Colorado State Patrol harbors a homophobic culture, and ordered the law enforcement agency to include sexual orientation among the topics covered in its diversity-training programs.

In a ruling issued Monday, Judge Mary McClatchey also ordered the patrol to designate a senior official in the agency to become a point-of-contact for gay or lesbian troopers.

The decision is the outcome in a case involving former CSP Captain Brett Williams, who was allegedly denied re-employment after his superiors learned that he is gay.

Williams, who departed from the State Patrol in early 2010 to pursue a career as a helicopter pilot, had returned and asked for his job back.

A polygraph test was required as part of Williams’ reinstatement and, according to a report by the Denver Post, a State Patrol sergeant asked Williams a question that compelled Williams to reveal he is gay — a violation of CSP rules prohibiting polygraph questions related to sexual orientation.

“The anti-gay culture in the patrol is well documented in this case. [...] The patrol has never educated its members or leaders through training or otherwise of the prohibition on sexual orientation discrimination in its written policy or state statute; further, it has not enforced that policy,” McClatchey wrote in her ruling.

“The preponderance of evidence shows that the patrol failed genuinely to consider reinstating (Williams) at every stage in the decisionmaking process.”

McClatchey rescinded the patrol’s reinstatement decision but stopped short of ordering the patrol to give Williams a job, reported the Post. Instead, she found that the patrol would likely be a hostile work environment and awarded “front pay” — the difference between what Williams would have made in a State Patrol job for the rest of his career versus what he will likely make now.

McClatchey noted in her ruling that Williams had been the subject of false rumors at the CSP that he is a child molester.

That award could put the state on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the case, though the full State Personnel Board will have to approve the awarding of front pay before an amount is set at a special hearing.

“I would not wish it on anybody,” Williams said Wednesday. “But if in the end it helps other people in my situation and causes the policies and philosophies in the state to change, then it’s a good thing.”

Colorado Department of Public Safety Director James Davis, in a statement released following the ruling, said that the department would appeal McClatchey’s decision.

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