Utah officer appeals firing for donning Speedo

June 6, 2012 - 3:05 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah police officer fired for dropping his pants and flaunting a green Speedo during a "Princess and the Frog" birthday skit at a school function wants his job back.

Cody Harris was dismissed from his position as a Provo school resource officer last month after playing a frog at a secretary's lunch-hour birthday party at Provo High.

He has filed an appeal, which will be heard by the city's civil service board, Provo School District officials said Wednesday.

But even if Harris wins reinstatement, the district will not rehire him after such "questionable" behavior, its acting superintendent said.

"He was supposed to be a frog," said Robert Gentry, interim superintendent at the district about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City. "We feel like he was a very good resource officer and did an outstanding job. He interacted very well with the students. This was just so out of character."

Gentry added Harris' behavior was "too far out of line" to warrant a second chance.

Harris agreed to dress in a frog suit with green sweats and a green hooded sweat shirt with sewn-on "frog" eyes for the May 2 birthday party, which was held over the lunch hour in a Provo High School conference room, Gentry said.

The party, for a secretary known as "princess," was attended by students and staff.

Harris told investigators he couldn't fit into green leggings provided for him that day and decided to wear the Speedo alone under his uniform pants, playing off a running joke about him donning the swimsuit at a Lake Powell outing for administrators.

The police investigation found Harris removed his pants several times, and made cheeky comments while posing suggestively in the skimpy swimsuit before female students and staff.

The report claimed Harris picked up the secretary and carried her about the room, posed suggestively before the assistant principal, and attempted to hug the head principal while his pants were down around his ankles.

"There were students in and about the area," Gentry said. "The Speedo itself is not appropriate in a setting like that."

Harris was fired May 10 for violating several police policies, including those addressing sexual harassment, conduct toward the public and conduct unbecoming an officer.

A working phone number could not be found for Harris, and it was not immediately clear what attorney was handling his appeal.

In his defense, Harris said he agreed to be part of the birthday party because he felt there was a lot of stress in the administration and thought the skit would relieve it, according to a police memorandum. He also told investigators he believed only administrators, not students, would be at the party.

Students who witnessed the party told police they laughed at the skit. Some backed Harris, saying it was only a joke and not grounds for dismissal. Others said they felt uncomfortable and knew Harris was going to be in trouble.

The police report said students were told to delete photos and videos of Harris in the Speedo.

A Provo police spokesman did not return calls seeking comment.