NYPD Chief Lori Pollock, one of the highest-ranking women in the police department, has retired and promptly sued NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, alleging that he demoted her as part of a longstanding policy of discrimination against women.
Pollock, a three-star chief who joined the NYPD in 1987, was promoted by Commissioner James O'Neill to the prestigious post of Chief of Crime Control Strategies, a position that reports directly to the police commissioner. In a suit filed in federal court, Pollock claims that her career path was derailed by Shea, who was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio last November.
During Pollock's first meeting with Shea as commissioner, he was "distracted" and staring at his phone, according to the complaint. The next month, Shea allegedly told Pollock that there would be "some changes." In Pollock's case, this meant she was demoted to the position of Chief of Collaborative Policing, and she would have to report to a new deputy commissioner—a man who had not worked for the NYPD, who Shea had just hired. This despite Pollock telling Shea that she had wanted to be considered for Chief of Detectives, his former post. (According to Pollock's lawsuit her new role was "considered marginally important, at best," and had been vacant for at least 11 months.)
At a meeting of NYPD executives in December after her demotion, where she would normally sit three seats from the commissioner, Pollock said she was at the other end of the room.
"During the meeting and in front of the entire executive staff," the complaint states, "Shea shouted to Pollock and stated: 'Hey Lori how do you like it at the other end of the table?'"
“For me to get where I am was like climbing Everest — it took 33 years to get almost to the top of Everest to be replaced for no reason,” Pollock told the Times in an interview. “I didn’t even have a voice anymore. It’s uncanny to me.”
Pollock's lawsuit states that she met with Shea in the new year, and that he admitted "structurally [her] transfer was wrong," but did nothing to correct it, so she retired.
The complaint also references a report prepared by the NYPD this month: only 39 of 416 officers who held ranks above captain were women, and women are more likely to be promoted to leadership through exams and not the department's discretion.
"In the 175-year history of the NYPD, women have never had an opportunity, like men, to compete for the highest-ranking leadership positions within the NYPD," the lawsuit states. "Specifically, Police Commissioner, First Deputy Police Commissioner, Chief of Department, Chief of Patrol and Chief of Detectives."
"The contributions of women, both in leadership roles and in their representation in the uniformed and civilian ranks, across the Police Department, cannot be overestimated," Detective Annette Shelton, an NYPD spokesperson, said in a statement.
The Mayor's Office has not yet returned our request for comment.
You can read Pollock's lawsuit below.