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Latino officers file discrimination complaint in Denver

The Associated Press

DENVER- Latino police officers have filed a federal complaint against the Denver Police Department, claiming it discriminates against them in recruitment, hiring, promotions, discipline and the work environment.

"We have been negotiating in good faith (with the city), but all we're getting is idle talk," said Denver Police Latino Organization local chapter President Rufino Trujillo.

The group says the department doesn't post legally required information about how employees can pursue discrimination cases, and it alleges that those who do file are either ignored or face retaliation.

The complaint, filed Feb. 23 with the U.S. Department of Justice and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Denver, includes allegations by eight former and current officers. The organization is also urging others to come forward.

The department has about 1,500 officers, about 300 of them Latino. Denver's population is 35 percent Latino, according to 2004 census figures.

Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson said Monday that Chief Gerry Whitman had not seen the complaint and could not comment.

"We really need to try to improve, and we're doing the best we can, at the very lowest level of recruiting, getting young Hispanics interested in law enforcement," said police spokeswoman Virginia Quiones.

Quiones said there also was a financial incentive for bilingual officers. Depending on the level of proficiency, they can make up to $200 more monthly if they are on call to translate for other officers.

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