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|Former Atlanta police LGBT liaison back on job but in different role|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|October 19, 2010 11:25|
Officer Dani Lee Harris returned to work at the Atlanta Police Department on Monday, but not in the position she would like.
The former LGBT liaison for the APD said she reported to duty in the ID division of the APD located on Donald Lee Howell Road and is now in charge of expunging records from computers after court cases are resolved and orders to do so are handed down.
“I’m glad to be at work, glad to be making a paycheck,” she said. She said the officers in her department welcomed her warmly.
“It’s bittersweet. I’m not doing what I want to do but I’m going to do the best job I can because that’s what I believe in,” she said.
“I do wish Office Sharp and Officer Powell the best of luck.” Sharp and Powell are the two Atlanta Police LGBT liaisons.
Harris said she does wish she could return to her work as an LGBT liaison, however.
“That’s my heart right there. And I love to teach at the academy,” she said.
Harris said she was called last week from the Personnel Department of the APD and told to report to work Monday at 8 a.m.
“My job was taken away from me and I don’t know why,” she said.
Harris was put on leave in April after she said she suffered several gran mal seizures, but has maintained she was always cleared to go back to work, even for light duty — such as desk duty — by her doctor. However, Harris alleges her supervisors kept her from coming back to work especially after she filed an official complaint in April against a civilian employee working in her department alleging sexual discrimination and the use of harsh and anti-gay language. Some of the details of the complaint became public knowledge when Harris also filed a complaint with the Atlanta Citizens Review Board.
Lt. Neil Klotzer of the Office of Professional Standards said Monday that an investigation into Officer Harris’ complaint is ongoing.
Harris’ partner, Tasha Davis, addressed the Atlanta Police’s GLBT Advisory Board at its meeting Monday, also asking board members to seek answers to why Harris was taken off her job. Davis said she spoke to a supervisor who told her that everything would be fine, that Harris would be paid while she was on leave.
But everything was not fine, Davis said, because their family, including their three children, suffered when Harris stopped receiving a paycheck for several months. A benefit was held for Harris to help her family pay their bills.
“We suffered tremendously. We don’t rent, we own. Our children suffered tremendously. Our community came together [for a benefit] for us so we could keep our lights on, can put food back in our house,” Davis said.
“Yeah, she’s back to work. I am happy, her family is happy. But why was she sent home? I wanted to be the voice for our family. APD has some really stand up people and I welcome the new liaisons and have heard great things about them,” Davis added.
“But to see her [Harris] chopped down and misunderstood has been very hard for her.”
Glen Paul Freedman, chair of the advisory board, read a statement from APD Public Affairs Manager Carlos Campos concerning Harris’ return to work.
Campos confirmed Officer Harris is “back in paid status” with the APD but there are some matters of concern that still need to be resolved and as result the APD cannot comment further on personnel matters.
Freedman and the others did not say anything further about Harris and her return to work, instead sticking with the official statement from the APD.
Freedman said he talked with Harris to confirm she was back at work and to contact him and the board if she had questions or needed assistance.
Board members Tracy Elliott and Betty Couvertier did say they would like to work to ensure something like what happened to Officer Harris never happens again.
Top photo: Officer Dani Lee Harris (right) with her partner Tasha Davis speaks to friends and supporters at a recent benefit held in their honor. Harris, the former LGBT liaison for the Atlanta Police Department, has been off-duty since April but returned to work Monday in a different role. (by Dyana Bagby)
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