Apparently, we had a pair of angels and didn’t even know it. Remember former Springfield Police Chief John Harris, whose resignation in 2003 had nothing whatsoever to do with the Renatta Frazier scandal? Subsequently sued by Frazier, and the Black Guardians Association, he was never found liable in either case. Now his wife, Barbara Harris, has also been vindicated by the Town of Marana, Ariz., where she had been placed on administrative leave last March from her job as assistant chief of police, following a 78 percent no-confidence vote.
In June, she signed a separation agreement accepting $107,000, but withdrew the deal because it wasn’t tax-free and asked for $180,000. A few days later, the town fired her, and Harris joined two other female officers in filing a gender discrimination lawsuit against Marana. She appealed her termination to the five-member Personnel Action Review Board, which met a record 11 times, all behind closed doors at Harris’s request, before deciding last week, in a 3-2 vote, to rehire her and pay her back salary and benefits.
One fly in the ointment: during her absence, the city hired a new police chief, who eliminated the assistant chief position in his reorganization of the department. Harris’s new duties are still being considered; no rush — now that she’s back on the payroll, she’s taking a “pre-planned vacation” through the end of the year, according to Marana public information officer Rodney Campbell.
Meanwhile, her husband, John, is still chief of another Tucson suburban department, Sahuarita, where he oversees about 35 sworn personnel.