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DC police chief responds to criticism over gay liaison training

by Scott Stiffler
Contributor
Friday Feb 19, 2010
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In the wake of criticism over changes to the Metropolitan Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, the department’s top brass continue to reassure local residents its reassigned officers have received the proper training.

As EDGE reported on Dec. 23, 2009, the DC Trans Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence and the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club criticized the session during which all new affiliate GLUU officers were trained. Many believed it was inadequate, and they cited a specific failure to discuss the distinction between sexual orientation and gender identity.

Local activists also expressed skepticism over the department’s decision to change the GLUU. They feared a centralized office with less staff signaled a dissolution of the unit. Their concerns stem from a shift in GLUU’s staffing focus, which now utilizes volunteer liaisons officers throughout the city.

There are currently 23 GLUU members -- four in the office and the remaining 19 in affiliates. There had been seven officers working from the centralized office.

Cathy L. Lanier, chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, told EDGE in a recent interview the decision to establish affiliate offices arose, in part, from a shift in the District’s gay population.

"A few years ago, most of the population was in DuPont Circle," she noted. "Now, there’s a sizable population in Wards 6 and 7."

Lanier also acknowledged criticism over the changes.

"We do hear that, and we try to explain to them (activists) our new way of expanding the program to make it citywide," she said. "We’re trying to reach out to a bigger population of officers to serve the community."

Lanier added several affiliate officers have already made their mark--especially in Ward 7’s sixth district.

"There are goals which have yet to be met; having that complete trust, and making sure everything gets reported to us," she acknowledged. "Right now, we are not counting certain crimes as hate crimes. There is also a lot of domestic violence where people are hesitant to report."

Lanier also responded to the specific complaints activists made about the Nov. 2009 affiliate officer training. She said the department will hold an advanced session this summer.

"All officers will get it, and our training will be updated on how to handle the transgender community and define domestic violence for all groups," Lanier said.

Scott Stiffler is a New York City based writer and comedian who has performed stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy. His show, "Sammy’s at The Palace. . .at Don’t Tell Mama"---a spoof of Liza Minnelli’s 2008 NYC performance at The Palace Theatre, recently had a NYC run. He must eat twice his weight in fish every day, or he becomes radioactive.

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