Some believe OPD promotions were discriminatory

Published: Jun. 29, 2018 at 9:12 PM CDT
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On Thursday, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer promoted two captains to deputy chief, but not everyone is happy with the selection.

Ken Kanger and Michelle Bang received the promotions. Eight people applied for the two openings, including Southeast Precinct Captain Kathy Belcastro-Gonzalez.

According to several sources, when an outside agency tested the candidates on their skills and expertise, Belcastro-Gonzalez finished first on the list. She did not get promoted.

"For deputy chief, never has the Number One been passed over. This time, Captain Belcastro was passed over not once, but twice. Why would they not trust that Number One was the best candidate?" said Omaha attorney Tom White.

The police chief does have leeway on his selections. He is required to interview the top four candidates on the list for every opening. Since there were two openings, he interviewed eight candidates.

The chief is typically allowed to select anyone on the list.

In March, just before the deputy chief process opened, Belcastro-Gonzalez filed a complaint with the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission alleging discrimination.

"The city couldn't promote her, they promoted other people who were promoted because Captain Belcastro protested the unfair processes that had been excluding women prior to her," said White.

When asked if he believed it was retaliation, White said, "Absolutely."

The city told 6 News the "complaint is without merit" and that it "anticipated... Captain Belcastro would be unhappy" not being promoted, adding, "we are comfortable that the decision on who to promote was based on merit of the candidates and not for any inappropriate purpose."

Meanwhile, the state will continue to investigate the complaint, which sometimes takes up to a year. After that, Belcastro-Gonzalez, who continues to supervise the southeast precinct, could take the city to court.

The city also said it worked in conjunction with human resources and the law department to make sure there was "nothing inappropriate about the testing process and who was promoted." Belcastro-Gonzalez's attorney said they intend to prove otherwise.