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Published: Monday, 7/3/2006

A little 'reverse' bias?

Discrimination is wrong, no matter who is perpetrating it, something African-American authorities in Woodmere, Ohio, near Cleveland, need to understand as much as the white racists who still plague our society.

Two white police officers say they were unfairly dismissed by the village's police force. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has weighed in on the officers' side and the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating.

The case is bound to get attention, if only because it isn't often that whites charge blacks have discriminated against them. Officers Amy Mengay and Timothy Ellis say they were let go in 2004 because of their race, and that black officers who have committed more serious infractions have been allowed to stay on the job.

If that's so, Woodmere will have a tough time explaining its actions.

Officer Mengay was discharged after she had three accidents in a police cruiser within 10 months. Two were minor, and she was cleared in the third.

Officer Ellis was dismissed after he was accused of giving false testimony in an appeal hearing for Officer Mengay. He was also taken to task for using a Taser gun during a traffic stop arrest, but he was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.

The village, of course, disagrees with the officers. Councilman James Jordan said, "Our opinion is the village isn't wrong." What matters are the facts, and so far, they don't appear to be in the village's favor.

The EEOC ordered the village to reach a settlement after finding that the officers' rights were violated. But the village dug in its heels, and refused to cooperate. That's when the commission turned the case over to the Justice Department.

There's still time for Woodmere officials to decide the case isn't worth the money or the potential embarrassment, and negotiate a settlement.

Racial bias is unacceptable, no matter who the victim. Whites can't help the color of their skin, either.

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