CPD lieutenant who filed complaints, 2 officers transferred; lieutenant forewarned chief

Cincinnati Police Lt. Danita Pettis during an interview at FOX19 NOW in July 2015. (FOX19 NOW)
Cincinnati Police Lt. Danita Pettis during an interview at FOX19 NOW in July 2015. (FOX19 NOW)
Updated: Dec. 8, 2017 at 5:11 PM EST
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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A black police lieutenant who filed equal opportunity (EEO) complaints against the police union president and two subordinate officers is being transferred along the two officers, FOX19 NOW has learned.

Lt. Danita Pettis, the third shift District 4 commander, is moving to District 3, FOX19 NOW has learned.

Specialist Joy Ludgatis is going to District 2 and Officer Tamera Brown will work at District 1.

A police spokesman, Lt. Steve Saunders, did not respond to a request for comment.

Pettis declined comment due to an ongoing internal investigation launched after she filed the complaints Nov. 28 against Hils, Ludgatis and Brown.

Ludgatis and Brown could not be reached for comment.

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In other new developments Friday, FOX19 NOW obtained records showing Pettis forewarned Police Chief Eliot Isaac months ago there might be trouble with her supervising Ludgatis.

Pettis was officially notified April 20 she was transferred from Central Business District to District 4, records show.

Three days later, she wrote a memo to the chief requesting he reassign Ludgatis from District 4.

Pettis filed an EEO complaint on Ludgatis two years prior, in February 2015, stating Ludgatis made racial statements that led to Ludgatis being transferred out of Central Business Section to District 4.

"....Ludgatis made derogatory remarks reference the Cincinnati Police Department's promotional system, and distrust with incoming Police Lt. Danita Pettis," wrote Captain Mike Neville in a memo to then Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell requesting a reprimand and transfer for Ludgatis on Feb. 17, 2015.

"More specifically, Specialist Ludgatis expressed her belief that blacks always claim they were denied transfer opportunities because of their race, yet whites are the ones passed over for promotion because of Affirmative Action."

The next sentence in the memo is blacked out.

"On February 17, 2015, I met with Lieutenant Pettis," Neville's memo continues. "Lieutenant Pettis expressed her concern a subordinate member of her staff would make such claims, which would soon undermine Lieutenant Pettis' ability to command those in the Central Business Section. Lieutenant Pettis further expressed her concerns that future management decisions affecting Specialist Ludgatis could be deemed by Specialist Ludgatis as retaliatory based on Specialist Ludgatis' current perceptions

"On February 17, 2015, I met with Specialist Ludgatis. Specialist Ludgatis acknowledged her belief that she did not trust Lieutenant Pettis."

The rest of the paragraph is blacked out.

"Specialist Ludgatis then recalled her opinion she expressed to others that our current promotion system is unfair, as male white candidates are not promoted when minority candidates are," Neville wrote.

"Specialist Ludgatis then added that when blacks do not receive preferred assignments or promotions those black officers claim bias within the department, and that they were only denied because they are black.

Neville wrote that Ludgatis' comments "which give rise to Lieutenant Pettis' ability to command the Central Business Section," were in violation of police department rules that members:

  • Always be civil, orderly and courteous in dealing with the public, subordinates, superiors and associates
  • Shall not express prejudice concerning race, sex, religion, national origin, lifestyle, or similar personal characteristic

Neville recommended Ludgatis receive a written reprimand and be transferred from the section.

Then-Assistant Police Chief James Whalen recommended to Blackwell that he approve Neville's request and transfer Ludgatis to District 4.

Blackwell approved.

Pettis wrote in her April 23 memo to Isaac the incident created "unnecessary anxiety and hostile working environment" for her.

"The original concerns Lt. Pettis expressed in 2015, that future management decisions affecting Specialist Ludgatis could be deemed by Specialist Ludgatis as retaliatory in nature based upon Specialist Ludgatis' perceptions of Lt. Pettis would still be an issue currently and would not permit Lt. Pettis to supervise Specialist Ludgatis effectively," she wrote to the chief in her request to have Ludgatis transferred.

District 4 commander Captain Martin Mack recommended Pettis' request be denied, according to the memo.

"This incident occurred over two years ago and there has not been any additional incidents to date. Furthermore, Specialist Ludgatis was disciplined for the incident at that time and should not be penalized a second time," Martin handwrote on Pettis' memo.

"Furthermore, Specialist Ludgatis was disciplined for this incident at that time and should not be penalized a second time. Both Lt. Pettis and Specialist Ludgatis was spoken to by Captain Mack and advised that both are expected to be professional in their interactions.

"Request no further action in this matter."

Assistant Chief Paul Neudigate also wrote on the memo, concurring with Mack's assessment and recommending and requesting denial.

"Request denied," Isaac wrote agreed.

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