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Chester County Settles With Former Detective Chief Fired by DA

Although Chester County agreed to pay Kevin Dykes $126,000 in a recent settlement agreement obtained by Delaware Valley Journal, the county and district attorney did not admit any wrongdoing.

Dykes had sought more than $150,000, claiming District Attorney Deb Ryan discriminated against him because he is Black. In a federal lawsuit filed earlier this year, he called her actions “outrageous and malicious.”

Previously Dykes, of Kennett Square, was chief of county detectives. He contended Ryan treated him differently than his White counterparts, the suit said.

Chief Kevin Dykes

A former Pennsylvania state trooper before he was hired by Chester County in 2002, he rose through the ranks under three different district attorney administrations to become the first African American chief of detectives for Chester County under former District Attorney Tom Hogan.

“When a district attorney is accused of racial discrimination, it is troubling,” Hogan said. “When a district attorney capitulates and settles a racial discrimination lawsuit, essentially giving the plaintiff what was demanded in the suit, it is telling. This entire incident is a stain on the history of the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.”

The settlement agreement stipulates neither Dykes nor county officials may discuss its terms.

In the lawsuit, Dykes claimed Ryan told him she was firing him because he was part of the previous administration. However, Ryan met with another employee who was White and allowed him to stay on to achieve “superannuation” of his pension. She did not ask Ryan where he was in the pension process or offer him a chance to stay on.

When Dykes asked to delay his termination for four days in order to not affect his county pension because he would be joining the sheriff’s office, she refused and demanded his gun, computer, and badge, the suit said.

Ryan also removed Dykes from the Chester County Law Enforcement Task Force on Race and Justice, the suit said.

Dykes’ lawyer, Dolores Troiani, said both were Democrats so party affiliation was not the issue and that other White employees who kept their jobs were Republicans. Troiani said the issue was Dykes’ race.

Dykes is a member of a “protected class” under federal law, she said. Although he could be fired, as can any employee, he “can’t be fired for the wrong reason,” she said.

Dykes, who is now chief deputy for the county sheriff’s office, took a $50,000 a year pay cut by changing jobs after Ryan fired him, Troiani said.

Under the settlement, Dykes dropped his claims against Ryan and the county. He can keep any pension he has accrued and the county will not pay his legal fees.

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Chester County DA Deb Ryan Hit With Discrimination Suit

A longtime Chester County law enforcement official is suing the county and District Attorney Deb Ryan for more than $150,000 claiming racial discrimination for “outrageous and malicious”’ actions.

In the civil rights lawsuit, filed in federal court, Kevin Dykes, of Kennett Square, an African American who was chief of the county detectives, claims Ryan treated him differently than his White counterparts after she was elected in 2019.

Chief Kevin Dykes

Dykes was a former Pennsylvania state trooper before he was hired as a detective by Chester County in 2002. He rose through the ranks under three different district attorney administrations, becoming the first African American chief of detectives under former DA Tom Hogan.

Ryan told Dykes she was firing him because he was part of the previous administration. Three days later, Ryan, who is White, met with a lieutenant, who was also part of the previous administration. During her conversation with that person, she asked where he was in his career and permitted him to stay another year so he could achieve “superannuation” of his pension, the suit said. Ryan, in contrast, did not ask Dykes where he was in his career or offer him the chance to stay on.

Instead, when Dykes requested to delay his termination by four days so as not to affect his county pension because he would be joining the sheriff’s office, she refused and demanded that he turn in his computer, gun, and badge, the suit said.

However, White employees transferring to another department were not denied the use of their work computers, the suit said.

Subsequently, Ryan allegedly retaliated against Dykes, accusing him of improperly using a county credit card before she took office. That charge that had been previously approved by her predecessor, the suit said.

She also had Dykes removed from the Chester County Law Enforcement Task Force on Race and Justice that was formed after the George Floyd killing using the pretense that only one person from a department should be on the committee, although her department had more than one member, the suit said.

DA Deb Ryan

Dolores Troiani, a lawyer for Dykes, said both Ryan and Dykes are registered Democrats, so political party affiliation did not come into play in the disparate treatment that Dykes allegedly received. And indeed, the White employees who received favorable treatment were Republicans.

“It’s racial,” she said about what happened to her client. Dykes is a member of a “protected class” under federal law. Although he could be fired, as can any employee, he “can’t be fired for the wrong reason,” she said.

Dykes, who is now chief deputy for the county sheriff’s office, took a $50,000 reduction in his pay in changing jobs after Ryan fired him, Troiani said.

The suit claims that because of Ryan’s actions, Dykes “suffered and will continue to suffer irreparable harm.”

The suit demands that he be reinstated to his previous job and that he receive all previous job benefits, including “back pay,” “front pay,” attorney, and litigation expenses. Dykes also asks to be compensated for “pain, suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, harm to reputation, embarrassment, humiliation, (and) loss of enjoyment of life.”

The suit asks the court to require the county to “eliminate all unlawful discriminatory practices and procedures, including all racially directed terminations and discipline and remedy all discriminatory effects of past practices and procedures.”

“The district attorney unequivocally denies all allegations of this meritless claim,” said Michelle Bjork, Ryan’s communications director. “The district attorney does not tolerate any form of discrimination.”

“Chester County government does not tolerate discrimination and denies it occurred in this case. As such, the county intends to vigorously defend itself against this allegation,” said Rebecca Brain, a spokeswoman for Chester County.

 

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