Denno Votes No

Common Council votes to borrow $600,000 to pay judgement in police officer’s gender discrimination lawsuit

By Katie Adler

Originally Reported on February 27, 2012


The Syracuse Common Council voted Monday to issue more than $600,000 in bonds to pay a policewoman who won a judgment against the city over mistreatment by the police department. Councilor-At-Large Lance Denno voted no, saying police who misbehave should be responsible for paying for it.

Councilor-At-Large Lance Denno photo from

The city of Syracuse has made no attempt to put the liability where it belongs, on the shoulders of those few individual officers whose malicious acts have caused harm to their fellow officers, the department, and the community at large,” Denno said.

The woman, Katherine Lee, sued the police department in 2006 for gender discrimination. Her lawsuit accused the department of paying male and female police officers unequally.  She is one of at least five female officers to sue the police department in recent years.

Most of the police officers responsible for the discrimination are no longer on the force and the people of Syracuse must now pay for bad acts from a long time ago, Councilor-At-Large Kathleen Joy said.

“The city has taken extreme corrective measures in terms of police department policies,” Joy said. “There haven’t been any claims of harassment or discrimination since Chief Fowler has become the chief, and that’s very telling.”

Denno said he was outraged in the police department’s actions and was the only no vote in a 7-1 decision. The money should come from the police’s budget rather than add to the city’s debt, he said.

“It is fundamentally wrong to burden our children with the cost of our failings,” Denno said.

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