When award-winning news anchor Leon Harris was arrested and charged with a DUI several months ago, he undoubtedly let many people down. The popular and respected fixture in local news pleaded guilty to one of six charges he faced for reportedly causing a three-car collision and leaving the scene. No one was apparently injured except Harris, whose career has been tarnished by his arrest and conviction.
Nonetheless, NBC4 has invited Harris back on the air where he will return to the daily primetime news slot once held by the late Jim Vance, Harris’s predecessor, who NBC4 also supported years ago during his battle with cocaine addiction.
Harris, 61, is married and the father of two adult children. He pleaded guilty to the DUI charge and recently spent 10 days in jail. There is no doubt that it was his family about whom he was thinking as he fought back the tears during an interview with NBC4 anchor Doreen Gentler this week. Harris agreed to discuss the details of his arrest, with no holds barred, about what happened the night of his arrest and his road to recovery from addiction to alcohol.
Harris said he now undergoes three hours of therapy every morning, where he meets people who give him a new perspective on the crises which many continue to face. He apologized to those he disappointed and said, “I will try to show you I deserve a shot at earning your trust again, through patterns, not promises.”
Drug use and abuse are severe problems in America. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, among Americans aged 12 years and older, 37.309 million were current illegal drug users (used within the last 30 days) as of 2020, and the numbers keep rising. Be it marijuana, opioids, fentanyl prescription drugs, or alcohol, more Americans are becoming addicted every day. But like Harris, as bad as their lives may be, addiction can be addressed, and their lives “can be fixed.”
Harris must spend three years on supervised probation. An ignition interlock device will be installed on his vehicle to monitor his blood alcohol level through a breathalyzer he must use every day before starting his car.
We commend Harris for his honesty and transparency. There is no doubt someone will listen and know there is hope for them, too. And we salute the fact that even a large company like NBC4 has put its reputation on the line to show compassion for someone like Harris who’s committed to living a more fruitful life in recovery.