“I expect Officer Sharp to expand on the great work and tireless efforts Officer Powell began in May to help us continue to build bridges of cooperation and understanding within the GLBT community,” Turner said in the release. “There is plenty for him to do. Our work truly has just begun.”
Conspicuously absent from the cheery announcement, however, was any mention of former GLBT liaison, Officer Dani Lee Harris. According to the APD, Harris has been on leave for medical reasons since early this year (although Harris insists she's been cleared to return to work). She's never been officially removed from her post as GLBT liaison, and the department has refused to comment on whether or not she'd be welcomed back in that capacity — or whether she'll be welcomed back at all.
When CL contacted Harris earlier today, she was unaware that a second liaison had been hired in her absence. "That's news to me," Harris said. "I Still haven’t heard anything from them, but it’s good to know they officially hired another [liaison]. At least my attorney will believe me when I say that they weren’t trying to put me back [in the position] to begin with."
Harris initially ruffled feathers within the department when she commented to the media following the APD's raid of the Atlanta Eagle in 2009, but says she was "blackballed" after filing an Office of Professional Standards complaint shortly thereafter, one she can't discuss in detail because of pending legal action.
And the APD is remaining mum about Harris' status. APD Public Affairs Manager Carlos Campos says,
"No decision has been made on [Officer Harris], no permaninent decision. It’s in a holding pattern. It’s a personnel matter and it’s not something I’m at liberty to discuss in any detail."
In the meantime, and for as long as her leave is imposed, Harris is not receiving pay. As such, several LGBT and religious entities have organized a benefit concert for Harris on October 2. Harris says she plans to address the media at the event about what she calls the APD's pattern of "lying, retaliation and deception." Ultimately Harris says she's glad there are two GLBT liaisons on the force now, but she remains dubious of the APD's good intentions.
"My point is, you can't talk out of both sides of your face," says Harris. "If you’re treating one of your own like this, how will you treat the rest of the [LGBT] community?"
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