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Howard County: Gender ID played no role in rejection of volunteer for mounted patrol

A transgender former U.S. Capitol Police officer was rejected for Howard County’s Volunteer Mounted Patrol because she was “overqualified” and had more of a law-enforcement demeanor than the organizers wanted — not because of her gender identity, the county argued Wednesday.

Attorneys for the county laid out the history of the horse patrol and explained why Tomi Boone Finkle’s application was rejected in December 2011, in a 30-page motion for summary judgment filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Organizers wanted the horse patrol riders to be “community ambassadors” and “eyes and ears” for the police department, and had decided against hiring retired police officers because they could be “more confrontational,” according to the motion.

“In short, Ms. Finkle was not a good fit and she can point to no evidence demonstrating that her gender identity played any role in the selection decision,” the motion states.

Finkle filed suit in October 2013, alleging the county denied her a position on the department’s Volunteer Mounted Patrol in violation of federal and state laws barring sex discrimination in the workplace. A federal judge rejected the county’s motion to dismiss the case in April.

In the summary judgment motion, the county’s lawyers said Finkle’s riding skills ranked her 18th out of the 31 candidates for the patrol, whose members are considered police auxiliary volunteers. Also, her response time for deployment was three hours, twice as long as any other applicant, the lawyers wrote.

The lawyers also said Finkle “relies solely on speculation and stereotypes” to prove the search committee even knew she is transgender.

Only one person on the three-person search committee knew Finkle is transgender and her appearance did not come up in deliberations, according to the motion. The search committee members did notice that Hinkle, in her interview, “seemed to take over and question them technical issues… further demonstrating the potential for discord if Ms. Finkle did not believe the Volunteer Mounted Unit conformed to her view of what was acceptable,” the motion states.

“Essentially, they believed Ms. Finkle was overqualified,” the motion states.

The case is Finkle v. Howard County, 1:13-cv-03236-SAG, U.S. District Court (Baltimore).


About Danny Jacobs

Danny Jacobs is the legal editor at The Daily Record. He previously covered trial courts at the state and local levels and served as web editor.