WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Three women who said they experienced harassment, discrimination and retaliation by West Memphis Police Major Stacy Allen have come forward in light of a WREG investigation detailing the behavior dating back years. Allen retained his job, despite an independent report completed by a Memphis-based attorney that confirmed the behavior.
West Memphis City Council commissioned the independent report in 2020 to look into allegations of misconduct in the Police Department. In it, attorney Florence Johnson called Allen’s behavior “longstanding,” noting substantiated harassment and discrimination complaints going back to at least 2017.
The first woman who spoke to WREG said she heard Allen say many inappropriate comments during her years as a dispatcher.
“He said, ‘The way your mouth is, someone needs to put you over their knee and give you a good spanking. That somebody should be me,'” she recalled.
Seeing our original story air gave her a rare feeling of validation.
“To tell you the truth, it was the first time I’ve been able to fully exhale in four years. For once, somebody was listening. For once somebody was telling our stories,” she said.
She said she routinely witnessed discrimination and abusive behavior.
“He’d make comments how children of interracial couples were worthless, disgusting,” she said. “He looked at a dispatcher and told her the reason why she’s married to a white man is because she doesn’t know how to handle real ‘D,'” she said.
Another woman said she became the target of many of the comments.
“‘Let me come over and do things to you.’ Every day. Everything was sexual. Don’t flip your hair the wrong way. There’s some type of comment,” she said.
His comments even made them uncomfortable eating around Allen.
“We would almost turn around because then there would be a comment about him putting something else in your mouth,” the second woman said.
The third woman alleged Allen began sexually harassing her as far back as 2009. She believed he got her phone number from her employee paperwork and started calling to ask her out.
He’d say things like “you need to be with me” and that her white husband “don’t know how to handle [her].” When she turned him down, she “became a target” and he called her a “Black b***h.”
The women said Allen’s behavior had a racial bias.
“Out of the all the women I have observed sexually harassed, never was it a white woman. It was always a Black woman,” one said.
They didn’t want to be identified because they said Allen retaliates professionally and personally.
The third woman said he stalked her.
It’s part of why they no longer work for the West Memphis Police Department.
“I would be followed going to and from work, from and to my house. I’d even gone out on dates and he’d say, ‘Did you have fun with that man last night?’ I would be followed in Walmart,” the second dispatcher said.
“If you said ‘um’ or you didn’t ask a question he wanted you to ask, you were being berated. You were being threatened with your job,” the first woman said.
According to the independent investigation, these women reported this behavior to officials at West Memphis Police. Their extensive statements were all included.
WREG also found one dispatcher filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2017.
In fact, when one of the women found out an outside attorney was investigating Allen, she thought it was safe to go back to work at the department. She returned in January 2021.
“Stacy was gone on suspension. We all believed he was going to be fired. How could you not with the allegations against you?” she said.
But they soon learned of Allen’s punishment: a five-day suspension without pay based on employee complaints of intimidation and harassment. He kept his rank as major.
“It’s a joke,” she said of the discipline.
“He doesn’t need to be an officer. This is a dark stain on what police stand for,” the second woman said.
Mayor Marco McClendon defended the city’s decision to WREG and said the evidence did not warrant termination for Allen.
“I did not see sexual harassment in the investigation,” McClendon said. “If it would have came out and showed that he had grossly abused his power and authority and it was proven and shown through the investigation,” he said of what it would’ve taken to terminate.
In a letter where he appealed his suspension, Allen said the investigation “violated department policy and his constitutional rights.” He wrote he never got a hearing or any chance to address the allegations against him.
City officials also defended the city and Allen in the earlier EEOC case; in a letter to the federal government, the city attorney wrote the charging party “failed to provide any evidence of sexual harassment or a hostile work environment” and called her retaliation claims “without merit.”
The long ordeal has left its mark on the former employees.
“I’m so appreciative to see this was finally being acknowledged by someone after years of being swept under the rug by the department,” the second woman said. “I have always held out hope he would get what he deserved so I could come back home.”
“It’s not to make an officer look bad. It’s to tell the truth of what we lived through,” the first woman said.
They hoped their words would lead to more action. They also said they are considering filing a lawsuit against West Memphis for what they experienced.