Former police dispatcher claims retaliation for reporting alleged sexual misconduct

BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. -- After taking emergency calls at the Blytheville Police Department for more than a year, Elsa Harvey has pretty much seen and heard it all, but she says what happened to her caught her completely off guard.

"I got fired for answering questions, basically," Harvey said. Those questions first arose the morning of Aug. 27 when the former dispatcher claims she, an officer and their supervisor saw something suspicious on the dispatch center's GPS map -- a male and female officer at the town's sports complex.

"They were in an area that's hardly no traffic. It's dark," said Harvey.

Harvey said the complex is outside both officer's assigned patrol areas, and yet Harvey claims she saw this happen time and time again, along with questionable comments the female officer allegedly made.

"I've heard her say sexual stuff about other male officers," said Harvey.

Harvey said her supervisor reported what they believed might qualify as sexual misconduct, something she showed WREG is required in the police department handbook.

But days later, Harvey claims she was called in, accused of making a false report and ultimately fired on October 2.

Another officer was placed on leave, but said she couldn't speak with WREG since she was still employed by the police department.
Their supervisor allegedly received a letter of reprimand.

"This police department has to be held accountable," said local activist Tony Hollis, who is helping Harvey file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

But documents Hollis obtained from the Blytheville Police Department claim Harvey was fired for legitimate reasons, claiming she filed a false report about the two officers and had violated police policy in the past -- namely not sending a copy of a warrant to an outside agency and not dispatching officers to a call.

"I had no officers to send them, so I told them I didn't have anybody to send them," Harvey said.

Hollis said white dispatchers have had to make similar decisions in the past, but were never fired.

He believes Harvey, who is Hispanic, has been partly targeted because of her race.

"There is a pattern here in regards to how they treat female officers, how they treat African-American officers in terms of disciplinary action, in terms of promotion," Hollis said.

WREG contacted the spokesperson for the Blytheville Police Department, but has received no response to these allegations.

Harvey as well as other police department employees are planning on meeting with the EEOC on Friday.