DC assistant police chief says she was told to ‘have an abortion or be fired’ from her cadet program in the 80s

Dc metropolitan police
Metropolitan Washington DC police officers arrest demonstrators after they gathered to protest the death of George Floyd, Monday, June 1, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Associated Press/Alex Brandon
  • An assistant police chief in Washington, DC, said she was told to “have an abortion or be fired.”
  • A group of Black women filed a lawsuit in September against DC’s Metropolitan Police Department.
  • The women, who are both current and former employees, alleged discrimination and retaliation.

An assistant chief in the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC, said she was told to have an abortion or lose her job as a cadet.

Chanel Dickerson, who now serves as the assistant chief of the Youth and Family Engagement Bureau within MPD, said she was told to make a choice between her family and her job.

“When I was 18 years old as a police cadet, I was told I had to have an abortion or be fired from the MPD cadet program,” Dickerson said this week, according to WTTG. “My choice to have a baby was personal and it should’ve been mine alone and not for an employer ultimatum.”

Dickerson – who is now the highest-ranking Black woman in the department, according to WTTG – joined the department as a cadet in 1988, per the MPD website.

Chanel Dickerson.
Assistant Chief Chanel Dickerson said she was told to have an abortion or lose her job in the 1980s. Metropolitan Police Department

“Fast forward from that time, I think about my female colleagues when I was promoted to sergeant and it was another sergeant who was promoted with me and she needed a shift that was conducive to taking care of her child as a single mother,” Dickerson said. “Unfortunately, she had to do things no woman should ever have to do to care for her child.”Dickerson is one of 10 Black women who filed a class-action lawsuit against MPD in September alleging the department discriminated against them on the basis of their race and gender, NBC News reported. MPD did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The women said when they reported discrimination within MPD, they were ignored or faced retaliation, including being forced out of the department. The women added that the MPD division that handles complaints of harassment is overseen by a man who has “repeatedly expressed hostility toward female officers and colluded with management to discredit women who come forward,” NBC reported in September.

“I understand the dire consequences to me participating in this lawsuit,” Dickerson said when the suit was filed. Dickerson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

MPD told NBC News they could not discuss the “specific allegations due to pending litigation.”

“The Metropolitan Police Department is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout our organization,” police spokesperson Alaina Gertz told NBC. “We take these allegations seriously and we will be reviewing them thoroughly and responding accordingly.”

An additional lawsuit was filed this week by three Black women cadets who say they were retaliated against when they participated in an investigation against a superior, WTTG reported.