Maggie Gram,
New York Civil Liberties Union
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June 12, 2006

Testimony’s over. Former Suffolk Police Chief Joseph L. Montieth and expert witness Chief Vicky Peltzer capped off our case before lunch. Monteith spoke highly of the pre-2001 “light duty” policy and told the jury he’d chaired a SCPD committee designed to explore and develop department policies regarding pregnancy. According to Montieth, the department never experienced a shortage of “light duty” positions for pregnant officers — nor had it received any complaints regarding this the policy while he was Chief.

Montieth’s reaction to the April 2000 policy? He said he’d felt like “the baby was being thrown out with the bath water.”

Chief Vicky Peltzer, President of the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives and an expert on women in policing, testified to the importance (“essential” to any officer, as she put it) of effective bullet proof vests and gun belts. She confirmed that such vests are not available to women in late stages of pregnancy and that gun belts worn with the SC maternity uniform fail of their essential protective purpose.

When the jury returned from lunch, closing arguments began. NYCLU Reproductive Rights Attorney Cassy Stubbs began her final arguments with a concise explanation of the plaintiffs’ two discrimination claims. She told the jury that the SCPD had engaged in discriminatory treatment of pregnant officers when it adopted the 2000 policy, and she explained that the policy had had a discriminatory or disparate impact on pregnant women. Finally, she told the jury that the SCPD had been faced with a choice — to continue the traditional practice of accommodating pregnant officers, or to exclude them from work. The SCPD had made the wrong choice.

The jury is charged. We await a verdict.

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