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Cop Who Refused to Work at Utah Gay Pride Parade Placed on Leave, Under Investigation


"Clearly, bigotry is alive and well."

FILE - In this June 2, 2013 file photo, members of the Mormons Building Bridges group march in the Utah Gay Pride Parade in Salt Lake City. A three-day conference opens in Salt Lake City on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 to explore how the Mormon faith is dealing with gays and lesbians. AP

SALT LAKE CITY (TheBlaze/AP) — A Salt Lake City police officer has been placed on leave and is under investigation after refusing an assignment to work at a gay pride parade.

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

FILE - In this June 2, 2013 file photo, members of Mormons Building Bridges march in the Utah Gay Pride Parade in Salt Lake City. (Image source: AP)

"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-TV.

The officer, whose name was not released, is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation. Jones declined comment on the officer's reason for refusing the assignment.

Image source:  Image source: KSTU-TV

Steven Ha, executive director of the Utah Pride Center, told KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City that "clearly the officer's act was more than just smelling of bigotry, but I think the act was bigotry, choosing to not do a duty that is sworn by police officers to do."

Utah Pride Center spokeswoman Deann Armes said her group is pleased with the department's stance and believes 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, adding that it participates in a standing committee to address public safety issues related 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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