A police officer suspended in Salt Lake City for refusing to work the city’s gay pride celebration is now under investigation by Internal Affairs.
The officer, whose name has not been released to the public at this time, was placed on paid leave, the department stated in a release.
According to SFGate.com, he was to have been among 30 officers assigned to provide traffic control and security for the annual Utah Pride Parade on Sunday.
Salt Lake City police spokeswoman Lara Jones said the department would not tolerate the behavior.
“We don’t tolerate bias and bigotry in the department, and assignments are assignments… To allow personal opinion to enter into whether an officer will take a post is not something that can be tolerated in a police department,” said Jones, who would not go into detail on the officer’s reason for refusing the assignment.
Deann Armes, a spokeswoman for the Utah Pride Center, said that the organization was pleased with the police department’s response, adding that officers should undergo sensitivity training before being brought on to the force.
“Our goal is to make sure that police training and certification includes policies and oaths to ensure that all officers are committed to providing equal service and treatment of all citizens. Clearly, bigotry is alive and well,” Armes said.
Jones pointed out that the department would have a community outreach and recruitment booth at the pride festival. She also emphasized that the department would be part of a standing committee to address public safety issues relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.
“We have gay men and women that serve in the police department,” Jones told The Salt Lake Tribune. “One officer’s situation does not reflect the vast majority of officers that work in the Salt Lake City Police Department and certainly not Chief Burbank’s.”
Chief of Police Chris Burbank has marched in the parade in the past, and three deputy chiefs will march Sunday while he is out of town, the paper noted.
The police officer suspended in this case is part of a wider crackdown on practices that many feel discriminate against LGBT individuals.
Recently, a Colorado baker was told he would have to make same-sex wedding cakes if he was going to include wedding cakes as a part of his business, in spite of the fact he is against same-sex weddings on religious grounds.
He responded by getting out of the wedding cake business.
While it may be easy for some to see the baker’s argument, the police officer who was suspended is another story. How do you pick and choose who you serve when your job is to protect and serve the public?
What do you think, readers? Should this individual be fired or be allowed to continue working as a police officer pending sensitivity training? Share your thoughts in our comments section.
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