Inside the overwhelmingly white and male barracks of the Massachusetts State Police, women and minority troopers say they must navigate a workplace culture that can be hostile or even discriminatory toward them, the Boston Globe reports. In interviews and court documents uncovered through a review of dozens of recent lawsuits filed against the department, troopers and civilians say they have endured racial slurs and racist jokes, homophobic taunts, sexual advances, and lewd remarks— claims the state has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle.
Several troopers say bias affects employment decisions. They allege that the overwhelmingly white and male command staff tend to select people who look like themselves or who travel in social circles like their own. At least nine troopers, in recent lawsuits, allege they were repeatedly passed over for promotions and plum assignments or barred from the force on the basis of race or gender. The department is proudly paramilitary in structure and notoriously resistant to prying eyes, with its inner workings obscured from the people it is charged with policing, the Globe says. Even active troopers who are suing the department were reluctant to speak to reporters, fearing retribution and honoring a code of silence common among police. The Globe scoured dozens of lawsuits, scattered throughout the state and difficult to track down because of the state’s restrictive public records laws and court protocols. David Procopio, a State Police spokesman, said the department “is committed to providing a work environment that welcomes diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual orientation and demands tolerance of all employees.”