An assistant police chief for the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington D.C. said she was told she would either have to have an abortion or be fired when she was just a cadet.
‘I was told I had to have an abortion or be fired from the MPD cadet program,’ Chanel Dickerson alleged at a community meeting on Tuesday, noting she was just 18 at the time.
‘My choice to have a baby was personal and it should’ve been mine alone – and not for an employer ultimatum,’ Dickerson said, NBC reports.
Now, other black, female police officers in the Metropolitan Police Department are coming forward saying they faced the same ultimatum.
Chanel Dickerson said at a community meeting she was told as a cadet with the Metropolitan Police Department that she would either have to get an abortion or be fired
Dickerson is now an assistant police chief with the Metropolitan Police Department
Dickerson, who has been with the Metropolitan Police Department since 1998, is one of 10 black women that have filed a lawsuit against the department, alleging they experienced ‘an enterprise-wide culture of race and sex discrimination,’ according to The Hill.
The suit claims the women ‘came together as a class here to describe how the MPD has, for decades, treated black women police officers with contempt, to the point of systematic psychological abuse.’
It adds that the officers were met with ‘intensive pervasive retaliation against those who dared to complain about, report or oppose unlawful discrimination,’ describing a male-dominated culture in which officers with more authority sought to ‘abuse their power to exact petty vengeance on subordinates and make their lives miserable.’
The women are seeking $100million in damages ‘to ensure that these MPD practices are eradicated for current and future black women police officers and to obtain full redress for the Class Representative Plaintiffs and the class members who have been harmed by MPD’s consistent, system-wide pattern, practice and custom of race and gender discrimination and retaliation.’
In a statement to the Hill, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: ‘While we discuss the specific allegations due to pending litigation, the Metropolitan PD is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout our organization.
‘We take these allegations seriously, and we will be reviewing them thoroughly and responding accordingly.’
Another police officer, Karen Arikpo, said she was given the same ultimatum and rushed over to a D.C. doctor to get an abortion to keep her job
The two women were in the same class back in 1997, and their allegations have been corroborated by a male officer who was also in the class
At the time the lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia last month, Dickerson said: ‘I understand the dire consequences to me participating in this lawsuit.’
But since then, NBC reports, three more black women, all former cadets, filed another lawsuit alleging abuse and retaliation.
And after Dickerson spoke out publicly on Tuesday, another black D.C. officer came forward – saying she faced the same ultimatum Dickerson was given.
Karen Arikpo, a DC officer of 24 years, told FOX 5 that in 1997 her female sergeant told her class of police recruits if they were pregnant they would either need to get an abortion, or be fired.
‘So later that day, I went and told my class sergeant that I was pregnant,’ Arikpo recounted. ‘And she said I needed to have an abortion and she referred me to a doctor in DC to get it done.’
She said she had never disclosed the experience before, not even with her husband, as she thought it was something she ‘would take to her grave.’
But Arikpo has since regretted the decision, saying that if she could rewind time she would have quit her job and gone through with the pregnancy.
She said that she has since had issues conceiving a child.
‘It’s so unfair,’ Arikpo told FOX 5. ‘And now I’ve never been able to have a kid.
‘All these years, I’ve tried and I’ve never been able to have a baby.’
Now, she said she carries her blame, regret and shame for getting an abortion ‘for a job.
‘Then to want kids and can’t have them, how do you tell people that?’
The Metropolitan Police Department has declined to comment on pending litigation but says it takes these allegations seriously
Arikpo decided to come forward, she said, after hearing Dickerson speak and realizing she wasn’t alone.
The two spoke after the community meeting.
Dickerson and Arikpo were in the same class back in 1997, and their allegations have been corroborated by a male officer who was also in the class.
According to officers who spoke to FOX 5, the sergeant who gave the ultimatum is no longer with the police department.
And in a statement to the news station, the Metropolitan Police Department said: ‘Thee comments were made as part of the current lawsuit, so we decline to offer a response due to pending litigation.’
But FOX 5 shot back that Arikpo’s allegations are not included in the lawsuits, as she is just discussing this for the first time, but they did not reply.
The news station also asked what happens now to recruits and cadets who get pregnant, to which the department replied: ‘If a recruit gets pregnant while at the academy, she will be placed in a future class upon completion of her leave.
‘If a cadet gets pregnant, she would continue the educational piece with modified PT per guidance of a medical professional.’