Trial Over Racist Cartoon Underway



Arthur Scott


Jan 24, 2017 (San Diego) San Diego Police Sergeant Arthur Scott sued the City of San Diego initially over a racist cartoon showed during training in 2015. The suit came after he and other sergeants and lieutenants were shown an editorial cartoon that comes the teh turn of last century showing the first SDPD black officer on the beat. The cartoon, published in the long defunct San Diego Sun, shows officer Frank McCarter on the beat in China Town. The cartoon however, is drawn in the racits stereotypes fo the era, and show the black officer as a monkey with residents fleeing from him.

According to the lawsuit that is currently under trial at San Diego Superior Court, Department 74, after Scott complained at the blatant racist cartoon, his career hit a snag. Dan Gilleon is the lawyer who filed the suit and is trying the case on his behalf. The city assigned Assistant City Attorney George Schaefer. The case, so far, hinges on several claims that the city made to the Jury and the Court.

  • The relationship of Sergeant Scott with subordinates at South Eastern Division According to Schaefer this relationship was adversarial, and at one point Sergeant Scott put subordinates at risk.
  • The relationship with superiors was also not that good at South Eastern Division
  • Scott claimed that he was hurt by both his transfer to Central division and not being promoted to the Domestic Abuse Unit, an elite unit within the department.
  • At question as well is whether the transfer was voluntary or not. Scott says it was not since he was transferred under threat of an investigation of conduct unbecoming an officer if he did not accept it.
  •  The city also contends that he has thrived at Central

Some issues were raised during the court session, including the harassment of Sergeant Scott, and other officers as well, due to the color their skin. There was an interesting claim that a female officer did not want to go out on patrol with another officer, who used the N-word. This is not just against departmental policy, but that officer should have faced some form of a reprimand. From the statements in open court, the officer in question is no longer partnered with that officer, however, it is unclear if that other officer was ever reprimanded.

That event led to a letter of reprimand to Scott, since this female officer did come out and allegedly told him about it, but later went to the Precinct Captain Chris Knighton. Since the Captain outranks a sergeant and she reportedly spoke about this soon after the incident with the Captain, Sergeant Scott did not do anything more about the matter. The investigation should have been started by the highest ranking officer, and he was not it. Nevertheless, the department issued him a letter of reprimand, which he refused to sign, for violating equal opportunity standards.

There were other incidents, but after being transferred and passed on for promotion, Sergeant Scott intends to end his career as soon as he can collect retirement and move on to a legal career. This is a point emphasized by the city attorney. that the interests of Sergeant Scott and those of the department are no longer the same.  However, during questioning, Scott made a critidal point. Wherever he has worked in the department, he has trived. But there is a tension in Souther Eastern and he blamed the leadership.

Internal regulations, such as wearing long sleeves for all officers and Detectives when htey have tattoos, are not equally enforced. Moreover, he heard of two other officers, trainees, who were African American, who felt they were not treated the same way as other officers. One is still wtih the Department, the other resigned. He felt their treatment was all right, but he tried to find out about it, by talking with their supervisors. The City Attorney tried to show that he was incorrect and should have gone down to the field training officer in question.

The issue of pay is complicated. All officers in the department receive a bonus if working on either second watch or third watch. All officers are rotated, ideally, from one watch to the next every four months, WIht the promotion to the unit, sergeant Scott would have gotten a 5 percent bonus for the full year. Working on the third watch, which is the overnight watch meant a 5.3 percent pay differential, while the second watch meant a 3.8 percent adjustment. Schaeffer used the gross pay, and Scott used his hourly compensation. Gross pay showed that his pay did increase every year.

However, the questions on Scott’s treatment and whether there is a pattern of different treatment against Scott and perhaps other officers is at the heart or the case. Scott felt that some in the brass were out to get him after he complained about that cartoon.

Ed note: We are posting the cartoon for reference. The department claims it was used to highlight the history of the department, Scott said it was completely out of context in a training session.






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