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Cop Accuses Freeport PD Of Discrimination

FREEPORT, N.Y. (WCBS 880/1010 WINS/CBS 2) - A Freeport police lieutenant has filed a lawsuit claiming that she was demoted because she's a white female.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS' Mona Rivera reports
LISTEN: L.I. Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reports from Freeport

Debbie Zagaja, 47, was the deputy chief in the Freeport Police Department for three years. She was demoted in March to a lieutenant.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Zagaja alleges that she was demoted and passed over for promotion because of her sex and race and was replaced by a less experienced Hispanic male -- who was the department's most junior lieutenant, CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan reports.

Zagaja, a 24-year veteran of the force, names Village Mayor Andrew Hardwick in her suit, as having a racist and bigoted agenda. She claims that her case is part of a pattern of discrimination against whites.

"He is making decisions based on a black-white thing," Zagaja said.

McLogan talked to some Freeport residents Thursday about the merits of a mayor possibly factoring in color and race to reflect an ethnically changing community.

"I would like to see more black and Hispanic officers," one woman told McLogan.

Another woman had a different perspective saying "they shouldn't be put there just because of color...that's not right."

"If it is more integrated, it would be better for the whole community," another man said.

Mayor Hardwick would not speak to CBS 2, but the village attorney released a statement saying: "It is not the Village's position to discuss performance or policy matters involving staff.  Race and gender have not and never will be a factor in personnel matters."

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