PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. -- A workplace with inappropriate touching, exposure and threats.
That’s how a female officer described the Prince George’s County Police Department. She is one of at least a dozen (current and former) officers suing the department.
Lieutenant Sonya Zollicoffer shared her story in an ACLU Maryland Facebook video.
“It was a struggle to go home and your loved on ask how was training today,” said Lt. Zollicoffer, trying to explain the emotional pain she felt from the experience.
In the video, Zollicoffer described herself as a victim of some of what’s prompted the “Me Too” movement.
The lawsuit filed against the Prince George’s County Police Department on Wednesday states that in 2001, Lt. Zollicoffer was sexually harassed by her field training officer.
“…He would call me names. He would call me a b****," she said.
After Zollicoffer made a complaint, the lawsuit says other White officers were “slow to back her up on calls.”
She was moved to Internal Affairs three years ago, where she said she witnessed other wrongdoings against fellow minority colleagues.
Then this year, the lawsuit says Zollicoffer was promoted to lieutenant. However, when she asked to stay in Internal Affairs, attorneys say she was involuntarily moved.
“Not only placed back in Patrol, but the same district where I was sexually assaulted,” said Zollicoffer in the video.
The lieutenant is one of at least 12 PGPD members suing the department for racial discrimination on the job. They claim their White counterparts use racial slurs to address minority officers or civilians – and described a pattern of Black and Hispanic offers being retaliated against for reporting the misconduct.
Some are suing because of their termination. Others are still working there.
The people suing, say this culture goes all the way up to Chief Hank Stawinski.
There are critics out there looking at the timeframe. Those critics say Zollicoffer’s sexual assault claim, for one, happened 15 years before Stawinski was made chief.
The 65-page lawsuit outlines other accusations that were made more recently.
The department spokesperson affirmed on Thursday, they cannot comment on pending litigation.