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Officers file lawsuit against Westminster Police Department

Westminster Police Officers Brian Perez, Jose Flores and Ryan Reyes claim their commanders have passed them over for promotions because they are Latino.
Westminster Police Officers Brian Perez, Jose Flores and Ryan Reyes claim their commanders have passed them over for promotions because they are Latino.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC

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Three Latino police officers announced Wedensday that they’ve filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Westminster Police Department in Orange County.

The three officers — Brian Perez, Jose Flores and Ryan Reyes — say the Westminster Police Department has denied them promotions because of their ethnicity.

“I’m just looking for fair treatment. I just want to be judged on the merits of my job performance – no more, no less," says Perez, who has been on the force since 2003.

Perez says commanders repeatedly have passed him over for detective and other specialized jobs, despite his good reviews and experience as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund Attorney Victor Viramontes says less qualified people got those jobs, instead.

“The bulk of them have been white individuals," says Viramonte. "That is the basis of the lawsuit."

Officer Perez says he applied for a detective position a few years ago but lost to a white candidate with no college or military experience and who'd only been on the job a year.

Viramontes says that among Westminster's 90 police officers, about a dozen are Latino, about a dozen are Asian, and the rest are white.

Westminster Police have yet to respond to the lawsuit.

The three officers have also filed complaints with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

KPCC wire services contributed to this report.