Former Capitol Police officer alleges discrimination in department's K-9 unit

A former Capitol Police officer who was in charge of K-9 training filed a lawsuit on Monday against the force, alleging there was a culture of discrimination that has gone on for years.

Former Capitol Police Sgt. Juan Cobbin, who intermittently served as head of training for the K-9 unit and was the first Black officer to hold the position, alleged in his lawsuit that the force sought to “place unqualified white individuals into the role," according to Roll Call.

In his suit, Cobbin alleged that he moved in and out of the role, being brought back in “to train those individuals or to help the K9 Training Unit to recover due to their mismanagement.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Cobbin served in the Capitol Police from 2013 to 2021.

According to Roll Call, Cobbin was removed from consideration for the head of K-9 training position in October of this year due to what the department claimed was a lack of minimum qualifications for the role.

"The truth is that Sgt. Cobbin was removed from consideration because he is African American, and he had complained about discrimination in the K9 Unit," the suit states, Roll Call reported. 

The former officer alleged that in 2013, a group of white officers sent out a petition seeking to keep him from being head of K-9 training in favor of Sgt. Anthony Phelps, who is white and did not have the background and training that Cobbin had.

Cobbin resigned in October 2021 after he was removed as head of training for the K-9 unit and replaced by a white officer who he claims lacked the minimum requirements for the role in April.

When reached for a response by The Hill, U.S. Capitol Police said, "Although we typically cannot comment on pending litigation, we take diversity and inclusion seriously. We will look at the allegations and provide more if we can."

This is not the first time Capitol Police has faced accusations of racial discrimination.

In 2012, around 50 Black Capitol Police employees filed a lawsuit against the department, alleging continual discrimination that included a hostile work environment as well as denial of promotions and other career enhancing opportunities. Hundreds of Black officers have sued the department in the past, going as far back as 2001.