A former three-star NYPD chief who sued the city this week for gender discrimination has offered scathing words about the leadership and culture within the police department.
In a lawsuit filed Monday, Lori Pollock says she was one of five women in the NYPD who has ever held a three-star chief ranking in the department's 175-year history. Despite her accomplishments over three decades, Pollock says she was forced to retire the first week of August due to a "glass ceiling" that created a lack of advancement opportunities for women.
"The police department culture is still an all-boys network. These are people put into positions because they network. And women … aren't included in that network," Pollock said in an exclusive interview with NBC New York. "I should be afforded the same opportunities as my male counterparts, and I wasn't."
The suit alleges newly installed NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea ignored the input of high-ranking female managers like Pollock, who had been with the department since 1987, during a transition meeting in November 2019. Shea was apparently distracted by his phone for most of Pollock's presentation, according to the lawsuit.
At the meeting, the 56-year-old Pollock (who held the position Chief of Bureau of Crime Control Strategies at the time and was the first and only woman to do so) made clear that she wished to be considered for Chief of Detectives, a role Shea had vacated to become Commissioner.
Despite being qualified to at least be considered for the promotion, Pollock said she was never even granted an interview.
"I hadn't been given the opportunity to explain what I would do in that position," she said.
Instead, Pollock claims Shea demoted her "in the most public way possible" during their next meeting in December.
She was transferred to the Office of Collaborative Policing, put in a role that at the time was held by a civilian. She had to report to another civilian who was heading up the newly formed bureau.
"I was stripped of my command … I commanded over 300 people, civilians and uniforms. When I moved to Chief of Collaborative Policing, I had five people, no command," Pollock said.
The suit also claimed that Shea promoted men in other leadership positions without affording qualified women to interview for the jobs. Pollock eventually retired on Aug. 6 because she felt there was no way to advance her career.
"I'm very angry. I'm hurt, I'm sad that this is how my career has ended, this is not how I wanted my career to end," she said. The former cop believes that it is "a complete lie" any time Shea touts diversity within the department, and that her treatment is a prime example of how it is "a lot of smoke and mirrors."
When asked why she was was filing the lawsuit, Pollock said it was for other women in the department who down the line my be put in a similar position, and that she wants to force a change in the NYPD's culture.
"It's my turn to move the ball down the field. If I don't say something, the same thing is going to happen to the next women who come in behind me," Pollock said. "I would really regret if I just walked away without saying something."
The legal team for Pollock said they will seek to depose Commssioner Shea.
"I look forward to asking Commissioner Shea about the reasons for Lori's treatment," said attorney Colleen Meenan. "How he made decisions to promote certain people while demoting her. How he can explain the absence of women during his tenure."
A spokesperson for the NYPD said in a statement that they will review the lawsuit as soon as it's served, adding "the contributions of women, both in leadership roles and in their representations in the uniformed and civilian ranks, across the Police Department, cannot be overestimated."
In a statement to the Daily News, the NYPD said, “We will review the lawsuit when we are served. The contributions of women, both in leadership roles and in their representation in the uniformed and civilian ranks, across the Police Department, cannot be overestimated."