Ronald F. Tate
calls himself the most punished trooper in the history of Delaware State Police.His
discipline file contains more than 2 , 000 pages and weighs more than 30 pounds.
Nobody compares with Tate's long disciplinary record , a state police lawyer once wrote in describing Tate's work history.
In a federal lawsuit , the 42-year-old Lincoln resident says he
has been singled out for discipline because he
is black and outspoken.He
claims white troopers have done worse than he
has but their white commanders looked the other way.Tate
plans to testify today at state Senate hearing on discrimination claims against state police.
State police said they have done nothing wrong in Tate's case.His
file , spokesman Lt.
Members of United Troopers Alliance , a group of current and former black officers that Tate
helped revive in the early 1990s , have said they see Tate's fight as symbolic of the rift between many black troopers and the agency's all-white administrators.Tate
agreed to share a copy of his
discipline record with The News Journal and to talk about his
rocky , 12-year career with Delaware State Police.
State police Superintendent Col..
I've never stated that I wasn't without flaw while I was a Delaware state trooper , Tate
said.My grievance is with the manipulation of my discipline file to destroy my career..
State police officials , in memo after memo , said Tate
failed to show up in court , deceived his
superiors and did poor criminal investigations.
Tate's record shows he
was constantly in trouble with his
spent three of his
12 years on the force on probation.Between 1989 and 1999 , he
was found guilty of violating state police rules at least 27 times and was suspended without pay for a total of 504 hours.There were only three years in which he
wasn't charged with some kind of offense.
The violations ranged from losing his
raincoat , which brought a two-day suspension , to mishandling a shooting investigation by treating it as a misdemeanor instead of a felony.That resulted in a one-week suspension.
In one 1993 case , Tate
was suspended for 14 days because he
failed to show up for several traffic trials scheduled on the same day.Tate
was recovering from surgery two days before the court date and forgot to give the judge a list of cases that needed to be postponed.
Temple University professor James Fyfe , a former New York City police officer and expert on police discipline , reviewed a summary of Tate's record for The News Journal and said Tate
should have been fired years ago.
...Tate said that if he really was as bad an officer as his record shows , he should have been fired
claims state police officials knew the charges would not stand up to a court challenge.
Police investigators charged him with minor rule violations at every opportunity to harass him into quitting , he
troubles to May 1990 , when all of the state's black troopers met with former Col..
The troopers agreed that each would read one complaint from the list so no one would be singled out as a troublemaker or the ringleader , Tate
But when we walked in and sat down [ the other troopers ] refused to read them , Tate
stood up and read the entire list.
had joined the force a year earlier after eight years as a police officer with the Arlington County Police Department
in Virginia.Because he wasn't new to policing , Tate said he became an activist when no one else would speak
.Some of his
supervisors found that threatening , he
But Graviet , now chief of the Bethany Beach Police Department
I think what affected Ron Tate's discipline record was Ron Tate's
discipline , he
helped revive the United Troopers Alliance , an organization of black state troopers that began in the mid-1980s , said former trooper Bradford Powns.
...By 1989 , when Tate graduated from the academy , the group had stopped meeting , Powns said
and Powns were among the most outspoken members of a new generation of black troopers who restarted the group.
The effort stalled when not enough troopers agreed to sue and Tate
was marked as a troublemaker , Powns said.
State police investigated Tate
for seven months.An internal affairs officer followed as he
went to games and practices , at times watching him through binoculars from an unmarked car.
Police interviewed dozens of witnesses , collected more than 100 documents.Tate
eventually was demoted , put on probation , suspended for a week without pay and transferred to a new troop about 50 miles from his
That prompted the 1999 federal lawsuit in which Tate claims he
was punished for doing something that white officers had done without a problem for years.He
is demanding to be compensated for lost wages related to his
The lawsuit is pending.It has not been amended to reflect Tate's firing.Tate began volunteering as an assistant football coach at Milford High School in 1993
When Milford head coach Greg McLaurin took over the football program at Smyrna High School
in 1997 , he
to go with him as a paid , part-time assistant.Tate
agreed , on the condition that he
got approval from his
State police policy requires troopers to get permission from the superintendent before accepting a paid job.Tate
wrote then-superintendent Col..
would not have been available to the team at the hours he
needed to be available , Ellings- worth said , according to a transcript of the deposition.Tate
continued showing up at practices and games.He
considered himself a volunteer.
...In a February 1998 disciplinary hearing , state police officials found Tate broke three rules : he worked as a coach without getting permission , he disobeyed an order to quit working as a coach and he used his patrol car to get to practices
Mary Ann Papilli ordered Tate
to quit coaching.
was disciplined , Ellingsworth sent out a survey asking all troopers to declare whether they had any outside employment , according to the deposition taken earlier this year.
is fighting to get his
job back.State police dismissed him in February and ordered him to apply for disability retirement , ruling that he
was permanently disabled in 1998 when he
slipped on the ice while on the job.
The Pension Board ruled in April that Tate
was not eligible for a disability retirement because his
injury could be cured with three to six months of therapy.
asked for his
job back.State police have ordered him to see a new doctor.
I've never stated that I wasn't without flaw while I was a Delaware state trooper , former Delaware State Police Officer Ronald Tate
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