2 officers accuse Cobb chief of racism in lawsuit

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COBB COUNTY, Ga. - Two Cobb County police lieutenants are leveling allegations of racism against their Chief John Houser, and the police department.

In a federal lawsuit, lieutenants James Brown and Craig Owens claim the chief and the department repeatedly promoted white officers to the position of captain, instead of them. Promotions, the lieutenants claim, they instead deserved based on experience, recommendations and credentials.

Brown and Owens are African-Americans and have each served more than 20 years with the department.

"For no reason other than their skin color, to they find their career has been completely stymied, and they have to go home every night knowing no matter how hard they try they are never going to get a promotion," Edward Buckley told Channel 2's Rachel Stockman.

The lawsuit cites several examples where white officers have been promoted to the command staff, instead of them.

"They are actually training people that end up getting promotions over them," Buckley said.

Channel 2 Action News confirmed there is currently one African-American member of the Cobb police command staff. A spokesperson with Cobb County told Stockman the police department cannot comment on ongoing litigation.

The lawsuit goes on to state: "the Cobb County Police Department took these actions as part of an unofficial government policy or custom which discriminates against African American police officers. "

Brown and Owens are seeking a permanent injunction, prohibiting the police department from engaging in unlawful employment practices in violation of the U.S. Constitution. They are also requesting a judge promote them.

State Rep. Alisha Morgan, D-Austell, says she's received several complaints from minority officers within the Cobb Police Department about the promotion process.

"I am concerned about the process for promotion, and sympathize with these officers and believe they are brave for bringing forth this lawsuit," Rep. Morgan told Channel 2's Rachel Stockman