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Salt Lake police officer says he was 'uncomfortable' with parade assignment

Published: Monday, June 9 2014 6:40 p.m. MDT

A Salt Lake police officer placed on leave last week said he was "uncomfortable" with the assignment to ride ahead of the Utah Pride Parade.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake police officer placed on leave last week said he was "uncomfortable" with the assignment to ride ahead of the Utah Pride parade.

The officer, who has not been identified, informed the department Monday through his attorney that he will not be returning to work.

"They left him no choice," said Bret Rawson, the officer's attorney.

Rawson said an internal affairs investigation and statements made by the department last week have created a climate that would not allow the officer to continue work with the force.

The motor officer had been assigned to ride ahead of the Utah Pride parade Sunday, according to a statement released Monday. He asked to trade for a security or patrol assignment, according to the statement, and was placed on paid administrative leave.

"The officer simply felt that the level of participation required in the event could be perceived as endorsing or advocating in favor of the LGBTQ community, a position which made him uncomfortable given his personal and religious beliefs," the statement read.

Salt Lake police spokeswoman Lara Jones declined to comment on the statement Monday. Jones said Friday that officers in the department cannot allow personal opinion to determine whether they will accept an assignment.

"We don't tolerate bias and bigotry in the department, and assignments are assignments," Jones said Friday.

The officer, who has been with the department for seven years, contends he did not refuse the assignment and that the situation has been "misrepresented," according to the statement.

Members of the Salt Lake City Police Department have marched in past Utah Pride parades, including Chief Chris Burbank who marched last year. Three deputies marched in the parade Sunday, and the department's outreach and recruitment booth was present at the Utah Pride Festival on Saturday.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com, Twitter: McKenzieRomero

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