Melissa Pinion-Whitt, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/11/2011 07:10:03 PM PDT

BANNING – Two black officers formerly employed by the Police Department and another still on the payroll claim they were targets of discrimination and a hostile work environment that tolerated racial slurs and jokes, an attorney representing them said Monday in a letter to the city manager.

The attorney, Rupert A. Byrdsong, said he has not filed a legal claim against the city or Police Department – which employs 33 sworn personnel – but he delivered the letter to the city manager outlining officers’ concerns.

“We’ve invited them to sit down and discuss the issues and problems,” Byrdsong said.

The seven-page letter contains information on three officers – Marcus Futch, Greg Herrington and Allen Eley – who all claimed to be victims of workplace discrimination.

Futch worked for the department from 2006 until September, when he was fired for several reasons, including arriving late at a court hearing and backing into a parked police car, according to the letter.

Byrdsong wrote that Herrington began working for Banning police in 2004. He was nominated for officer of the year and received three promotions. But despite receiving a master’s degree in public administration and a number of other achievements, he did not receive another promotion because he did not have a required Police Officer Standards and Training supervisory certificate.

“A white officer who also did not have the certificate was allowed to promote,” the attorney wrote.

Herrington was fired for not releasing his wife’s personal phone records in October 2009, according to the letter.

Eley, who began working for Banning police in 2006, has suffered health problems from what he claimed was a hostile work environment. He is on administrative leave, Police Chief Leonard T. Purvis said.

Purvis said that the city Human Resources Department has contacted an outside investigator to look into the allegations.

“There’s more information as to both of these cases, but unfortunately because of personnel issues and the Peace Officers Bill of Rights, I can’t go into the details,” Purvis said.

In the last 2 1/2 years, he said, he’s had to fire eight people for various reasons, and they were white, Latino and black.

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