Seattle Detective Says She Was the Face of the Department’s Relationship with the Black Community But Behind Closed Doors She Was ‘Belittled,’ Told to Work in a Cell

A 43-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the city.

Detective Denise “Cookie” Bouldin filed a $10 million tort claim in March, but it escalated to a lawsuit after the city failed to respond.

Known as “Detective Cookie” in the community, Bouldin says she faced years of gender and racial discrimination while working for the SPD and was retaliated against by her colleagues due to her outreach to communities of color in Seattle, Washington. The lawsuit was filed on Nov. 3.

Seattle Police Detective Denise “Cookie” Bouldin
Seattle Police Detective Denise “Cookie” Bouldin. (Photo: KING 5 Seattle news / YouTube screenshot )

According to The Seattle Times, the 67-year-old detective was subjected to “regular and continuous internal complaints about her relationship with the Black community.” Seattle’s Rainier Beach Park was named after Detective Cookie last year in honor of her community outreach, which included teaching children learning by playing chess. She became a member of the SPD in 1980 and faced “race and gender discrimination on a daily
basis” as the only other female Black officer.

“The Seattle Police Department has used Detective Bouldin’s strong relationship with the
Black community to portray such relationship as one the Department itself has with the Black
community,” states the lawsuit. “Behind closed doors, however, other officers and supervisors have belittled Detective Bouldin, challenging her loyalty to the Department and marginalizing her for her active role in the community.”

According to the lawsuit, Boudin was harassed with dog feces being left in front of her work locker after complaining about colleagues bringing their pets to work. She also claims other officers failed to come to her aid when she needed backup. The lawsuit states Boudin was subjected to “a culture of retaliation” that “deliberately” put her life and safety in jeopardy.

“Dog feces were left in front of Detective Bouldin’s locker as a direct result of her complaining about the roaming dogs,” says the complaint. “Dog food was also left in front of Detective Boulding’s locker while she was at the South Precinct.”

One white officer allegedly became incensed when she placed an African American Advisory Council pamphlet on her desk to announce an event. The lawsuit asserts that the officer said, “Who put this f—king s—t on my desk?!” before throwing the pamphlet down on the floor. “The sergeant made it clear that she did not want to work with any black people.”

Bouldin claims that several officers referred to Black protestors on television as “those people,” and a South Precinct sergeant referenced the Ku Klux Klan when he said, “Let’s put on our hoods and sheets and clean up the valley of crime.”

Other offenses included colleagues suggesting that she conduct her work in a holding cell and crossing out the name of a Black suspect on a bulletin and replacing it with the name of a Black police officer. The lawsuit also states that Bouldin has been repeatedly overlooked for overtime and career advancement and has been the subject of “hostile and derogatory” remarks by members of the SPD.

After Bouldin filed a tort claim last March, the lawsuit states that the city “failed to eliminate discrimination, harassment and the retaliation that created a hostile work environment for Detective Bouldin.” She filed the lawsuit in an attempt to achieve justice.

“The level of discrimination Detective Bouldin experienced at the hands of her fellow officers and superiors has had a significant impact on her emotional and physical wellbeing,” says the suit.

The police detective is seeking compensatory, general and special damages and injunctive relief, including implementing measures that protect Bouldin and other SPD employees from further discrimination and retaliation.

She is also asking for punitive damages in “amounts to be determined at trial to the fullest extent allowed by law,” as well as an order that requires the city to pay any taxes associated with the damages and cost award and attorney’s fees and any costs related to the lawsuit.

A trial date was set for Nov. 4 of next year.

Read the original story on Atlanta Black Star.

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