ASBURY PARK — The city’s former acting chief of police says he was never appointed to be the real chief only because he is white.

Anthony Salerno Jr. is suing the city saying the mayor, who also is white, and the City Council interfered with the promotions process “in order to satisfy their agenda of promoting more officers of color.”

Salerno retired in May and collects a $92,215 annual pension for the rest of his life. The pension is based on a final salary of $134,000, which might have been higher had he been promoted.

But while Salerno is claiming the city had a bias against white officers, the city is also defending against a lawsuit by a black police officer who says they city's promotions process discriminated against black officers.

Sgt. Marshawn Love’s own lawsuit says he was demoted after being scapegoated for his involvement in a controversial case in which a Neptune police officer fatally shot his wife on an Asbury Park street in 2015. Love is black.

Asbury Park’s population is more than 51 percent black and 36 percent white.

Salerno, 64, is suing for an unspecified amount of damages alleging discrimination and emotional distress. He is represented by Charles J. Uliano of the West Long Branch firm Chamlin Rosen Uliano & Witherington. A notice of tort claim filed with the city before the lawsuit was filed in court says Salerno is seeking $1 million in damages.

His lawsuit was filed last month in Superior Court in Monmouth County and first reported by the Asbury Park Press on Thursday.

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