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Delaware Officer Claims he was Fired for Forming Police Unio

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- A Delaware State Capitol police officer was fired a day after a newspaper story describing his attempts to organize a statewide union for black officers.
Darrell Hervey had formed the African American Criminal Justice Society and had been talking with leaders of the National Black Police Association about organizing in Delaware, where recent lawsuits against the state police have alleged racial and gender bias as well as reverse discrimination, The (Wilmington) News Journal reported Wednesday.

On Thursday, Capitol Police Chief William H. Jopp fired Hervey by phone.

''I was fired because of the article,'' Hervey told the paper. ''This changes nothing. We're going forward with the union. I didn't start this venture just to be intimidated by their actions. The union is needed whether I get fired or not. This proves it.''

Jopp insisted the timing was a coincidence.

''There's been an ongoing, weeks-long investigation,'' Jopp said. ''The info was given to me. Based on the recommendation given to me, his employment was terminated. It's unfortunate, the timing. It's a personnel matter. I'm not allowed to discuss it.''

The matter was internal, not criminal, Jopp said. He pointed out that Hervey was a probationary employee who had not yet become certified as a police officer in Delaware.

Hervey, who has worked as a certified police officer in Michigan and Maryland, joined the Capitol Police force in August.

When officers are hired from other states, Jopp says he sends their records to the state police academy. The academy then determines what training they require, if any, and administers a reciprocity exam.

Hervey hasn't yet taken the exam, Jopp said. The police chief was unaware of any previous discipline noted in Hervey's personnel file.

Hervey said his only ''infraction'' was applying to another police department.

''Once they found out I wanted to leave, they considered me disloyal, my training stopped and I was assigned to dispatch,'' he said. ''I never got a chance to take any test.''

Hervey says he complained last week to the state's Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

''It was based on things I thought were discriminatory,'' he said. ''Clearly, there have been many white officers who have applied to other agencies. They've never been disciplined or placed in dispatch, and their training has never been halted.''

Jopp said he has not yet received the EEOC complaint.

The Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security is the parent organization of the Capitol Police. Neither Homeland Security Secretary David B. Mitchell nor his spokesperson Kim Chandler would comment.

Ronald E. Hampton is executive director of the National Black Police Association, of which the African American Criminal Justice Society is an affiliate.

''Years ago, when black officers were trying to do what Darrell is doing, they met in secret so the police chief wouldn't find out,'' Hampton said. ''This police chief has to be from another planet to fire an individual because he's organizing a group to better the lives of people of color. I can't imagine how he thinks he can win this case and get away with it.''

Hervey said the union, which he described as more of a fraternal organization, was going to focus on mentoring younger minority officers.
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