The Philly Police Athletic League Favors White Kids, Says Latina Who Ran It

Evelyn Cintron claims she was forced into retirement after she tried to fix what she says are major disparities between Police Athletic League locations in different neighborhoods.

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Former Philadelphia Police Department lieutenant and Philadelphia Police Athletic League head Evelyn Cintron. (Photo via Philadelphia Police Athletic League)

This story has been corrected.

Evelyn Cintron was a Latina lieutenant in the Philadelphia Police Department when, in 2016, then-commissioner Richard Ross named her the commanding officer of the Philadelphia Police Athletic League, making her the first Latina to hold that position. But three years later, Cintron is off the force entirely, and she’s now taking the city and the Philadelphia Police Athletic League to court.

Cintron just filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the Philadelphia Police Athletic League, the 72-year-old charitable organization that works with Philly police officers to provide much-needed recreational activities to Philadelphia children for free.

In her lawsuit, Cintron claims that while she was commanding officer of the local Police Athletic League, which has 20 locations throughout the city, she found “numerous disparities” between branches that serve predominantly white children and those that work primarily with children of color.

The lawsuit alleges that the Philadelphia Police Athletic League branches in predominantly white neighborhoods receive an unfair share of funding and that the distribution of charitable gifts such as tickets to sporting events unfairly favors those same neighborhoods.

Cintron goes on to claim that the disparate treatment extended to employees of the Philadelphia Police Athletic League as well, alleging “the unfair treatment of minority personnel, including, but not limited to, the disparity in distribution of overtime hours between minority and white personnel.”

Additionally, Cintron alleges that she found unsafe conditions in at Police Athletic League locations that served primary children of color.

The lawsuit maintains that when she tried to run her complaints and concerns up the chain of command, she was thwarted by her immediate supervisor, a deputy commissioner who is a white Irish man. At one point, Cintron says, she went around her supervisor to another deputy commissioner she had previous worked under and was told to take her complaints back to her deputy commissioner. When she did so, he told her never to circumvent his authority again.

After that, Cintron claims, things went further downhill.

She says that her deputy commissioner “leveled false accusations about her work performance and disparaged and besmirched her reputation to third parties,” reads the complaint. It goes on to claim that he convinced other members of Police Athletic League leadership to “isolate her, exclude her from meetings, and to treat her with general hostility.”

The suit notes that the majority of Police Athletic League leaders are white males. A review of Philadelphia Police Athletic League records indicates that all seven of the cops in top leadership roles in the organization are men and that five of those seven men are white. The civilian executive director and the chair of the organization’s board of directors are white men.

Due to the work environment that she says existed after she voiced her concerns, Cintron claims she was forced to retire from the Philadelphia Police Department after 20 years of service.

The lawsuit argues that Cintron was subjected to this treatment because she is a Latina and accuses the defendants of discrimination and retaliation.

Philly Mag has reviewed all available financial documents pertaining to the Philadelphia Police Athletic League, but they do not show how the funds and gifts were divided between the 20 locations. We have requested further documentation.

Cintron’s lawsuit comes at a turbulent time for the Philadelphia Police Department.

In June, the department made national headlines after an advocacy group identified scores of Philly cops who had made racist, violent, or bigoted comments on social media.

Two months later, Commissioner Ross resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal playing out in the department.

The Philadelphia Police Department declined to comment for this story, and the city does not comment on pending litigation. Cintron’s attorney declined to comment, and the Philadelphia Police Athletic League did not respond to a request for comment.

Correction: Evelyn Cintron was not the first Latina police lieutenant in Philadelphia, as this story previously stated. She was the first Latina to hold the position of commanding officer of the Philadelphia Police Athletic League.