published Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Cop refuses to work at gay pride parade in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake City police officer has been placed on leave after refusing an assignment to work at a gay pride parade.

The officer was among about 30 officers assigned to provide traffic control and security for the annual Utah Pride Parade on Sunday in Salt Lake City, said department spokeswoman Lara Jones.

"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," Jones told KSL.

She declined comment on the officer's reason for refusing the assignment.

The officer, whose name was not released, is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.

Utah Pride Center spokeswoman Deann Armes said her group is pleased with the department's stance and thinks officers should undergo sensitivity training before joining 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 in a statement.

Police Chief Chris Burbank has marched in the parade in the past, and three deputy chiefs will march Sunday while he is out of town.

The department also will have a community outreach and recruitment booth at the pride festival, Jones said, and participates in 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."

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