Recruits of color at the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Training Academy claim they were insulted, discriminated against, and harshly treated, according to a report from the Associated Press that comes as the agency struggles to contend with decades of discriminatory behavior against minorities.
A white instructor at the DEA’s Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia, last year allegedly referred to a Black recruit as “the monkey,” and would taunt Black recruits by making “monkey noises” over a loudspeaker, according to an internal complaint obtained by the Associated Press.
The instructor was swiftly transferred, the agency told Forbes, and an investigation opened into his conduct by DEA’s internal affairs bureau, the Office of Professional Responsibility, but he retired before the investigation was over, so the agency wasn’t able to “pursue administrative action.”
Dozens of retired Black DEA agents have said the agency discriminated against them – former Washington field division officer Karl Coder said, “there weren’t enough African Americans in positions to really monitor and ensure things are equal.”
Only 8% of the DEA’s 4,400 special agent’s are Black, and 10% are Hispanic, according to the AP.
In June, 76 Black retired DEA special agents wrote a letter “exposing the systemic racism in leadership at the helm of the Department of Justice” and criticized Attorney General William Barr for saying he didn’t believe the U.S. law enforcement system was “systemically racist.”
In 1977, a group of Black DEA agents filed a class-action civil rights suit alleging the agency’s hiring and promotion policies discriminate on the basis of race. In 1981, after a two-week trial, a federal judge found in favor of the plaintiffs, and ordered the DEA to take steps to cure systemic race bias against Black agents, according to Bloomberg Law. The suit still remains unresolved, according to the AP, despite a federal judge last year ruling the DEA failed to live up to the 1977 decision.
DEA recruits cite ‘monkey noises’ among claims of racism (Associated Press)
Retired African-American DEA Agents Decry Racism at the Agency (Wall Street Journal)