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Cleveland police sergeants sue city over slow promotions

September 19, 2018

Cleveland police sergeants sue city over slow promotions

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Two Cleveland police sergeants sued the city, arguing that they should be promoted but remain in their current ranks because the city took too long in issuing official promotions.

Sgts. Shawn Smith and Zina Martinez said in a lawsuit filed Aug. 28 that they are in line to be promoted to lieutenant. But the city delayed their official swearing-in ceremony because it fell on the date of the funeral for a fellow Cleveland police officer, and the ceremony has not been rescheduled, the lawsuit says.

Smith and Martinez were informed they would be promoted before the city held its most recent promotional exam April 28. They will no longer be eligible to be considered for promotions once that exam’s results and certified and a new list of candidates is generated, the lawsuit says.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John Russo granted the sergeants’ request for a temporary restraining order, barring the city from certifying the new list of candidates after speaking with the officers’ attorney, Nathaniel Szep, and a city attorney, William Menzalora.

A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 4 in front of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Steven Gall.

Smith and Martinez took previous exams, and supervisors informed them of their promotions to lieutenant prior to the April 28 exam, the suit says.

Both sergeants were told they did not need to take the April 28 exam because they would be promoted before a new list of potential candidates was certified, the lawsuit says.

But the planned swearing-in ceremony was delayed because it landed on the date of the funeral for fellow officer Vu Nguyen, who died days after collapsing during a training exercise in 90-degree heat.

In the meantime, a new list of potential candidates for lieutenant was generated based on the civil service test scores. Smith and Martinez will not longer be eligible to be considered for promotion once the city’s Civil Service Commission certifies the results of the April 28 exam, the suit says.

Cleveland city spokesman Dan Williams said the city does not comment on pending litigation. Fraternal Order of Police President Capt. Brian Betley did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Smith is a 19-year police veteran and Martinez a 22-year veteran officer.

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