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Disability advocate reacts to allegations against Shreveport fir - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Disability advocate reacts to allegations against Shreveport firefighters

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

The allegations against three Shreveport firefighters are rocking the local community.

50-year-old Derrick Harris, 26-year-old Clint Richardson, and 37-year Billy Glass were all arrested and charged with one count each of cruelty to the infirm and principle to prositution.

Published reports reveal disturbing details about what happened to two mentally disabled men inside Fire Station #8 on Velva Street.

Reports say Capt. Derrick Harris is accused of soliciting a prostitute for a 58-year-old mentally disabled man in the neighborhood. The man, for decades, had been a staple at the station and had befriended many of the firefighters.

At least one of the two men, one of whom is descibed as having the mind of a 9 or 10-year-old child, reportedly had sex with the prosititute while the firefighters allegedly watched.

Those reports also say the firefighters initiated "hazing" activities, including forcing the men to drink human urine and being left on the rooftop of the fire station without a ladder.

Duane Ebarb, who represents Region 7 for Louisiana Citizens for Action Now (LaCAN), knows first-hand what it's like to be made to feel like a second-class citizen.

A disability advocate, he says he's appalled at the accusations against the three firefighters.

"That these men would do something to that extent to individuals with a developmental disability that don't really realize what they're being subject to is really disheartening."

Ebarb works to pass legislation in Louisiana to protect those who can't always protect themselves; people like the two men who, for years, felt safe at Station #8.

"[People] think of us as 'out of sight, out of mind.' If they don't see us out in the public than we're not really there."

Authorities have been tight-lipped about confirming the details behind the charges, but those firefighters will have a chance to go eventually go before the Civil Service Board.

Board Chairman, Sgt. Jason Brook says the board recommends appropriate corrective action based on what the investigation uncovers.

And though it's a shadow over the department, Ebarb says he doesn't think this behavior at all represents other Shreveport firefighters.

"They are very caring people, very nurturing individuals that join the fire department."

According to the state's Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service website, revised statute 2500 says the appointing authority may remove a person from service for a number of violations, including any dishonest, disgraceful or immoral conduct.

The employee who feels that he has been discharged or subjected to any corrective or disciplinary action without just cause, can submit an appeal to the board in writing, and they'll be granted a hearing and investigation within thirty days of that request.

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