Officer Patricia Powell was recently assigned to be the second LGBT liaison for the Atlanta Police Department.

Atlanta Police Department names second gay liaison

She was unavailable for an interview by press time. Powell is listed on the APD’s website as being a member of the 2010 Scholarship & Training Committee that decides funding for other police personnel seeking extra training.

Officer Dani Lee Harris, who has served as the APD’s gay liaison for nearly five years, is currently on medical leave. Several gay activists who attended the Grady High School demonstration against the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church on May 6 questioned why Harris was not present.

Harris told Georgia Voice she was put on medical leave by her supervisors a month ago.

“I am on sick leave for gran mal seizures,” said Harris. “I was put on indefinite medical leave on April 16.”

Harris said she was informed about the Grady protest.

“Our internal commander of the Department of Homeland Security did call me the day before the protest to ask me to be there but I could not go out in my official capacity. I wished I could have been there,” she said.

Major Erika Shields issued a statement on May 7 confirming a second LGBT liaison was recently appointed, but she did not know the exact date.

In a written statement, Shields said, ““Thank you for inquiring about the Department’s GLBT Unit liaison. Officer Harris is on leave at this time. We recently transferred Officer Patricia Powell to the unit to serve as the department’s liaison. She is an excellent officer and I think you will be pleased at her joining the unit.

“The Department put an extensive amount of time in preparing for the protests of the Westboro Baptist Church. Our goal was to ensure the safety of all parties involved, while maintaining the high quality of life that residents of the City of Atlanta can reasonably expect.”

Shields did not say if Powell was among the dozens of officers who were at the scene at Grady High School near Piedmont Park when hundreds showed up to counter protest a handful of WBC members and their anti-gay and anti-Semitic messages.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, in an interview with Georgia Voice last month, said he planned to have two full-time LGBT liaisons within the police department after the botched raid of the gay Atlanta Eagle leather bar last year. Office Harris was not notified of the raid when it occurred, causing outrage among LGBT Atlantans.

Reed said in the April 7 interview he planned to add another LGBT police liaison, so that in the future there will be “a minimum of two,” and to insure that they are integrated in the police department’s operations.