On October 22nd, 2009, DCTC was invited to a meeting by the Metropolitan Police Department to hear their plans for reorganizing their Liaison Units (which includes the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit, who generally handle relations between MPD and trans and gender nonconforming people as well. However, given that trans/GNC folks in the District are also part of other communities, we feel that changes in all of the Liaison Units are relevant.) Sgt. Bret Parsons recently stepped down as head of the GLLU and the other Liaison Units, causing some to worry that Police Chief Lanier intended to close the Units altogether.
Because dealing with the police is a daily concern for many trans/GNC people, changes in the police’s structure will likely affect a lot of folks in our communities. Thus, we feel it’s important for us to be aware of what’s going on at MPD and to make this information available to as many people as possible.
See below for a report-back and summary of our meeting with the police.
Chris Dyer (Mayor’s Office on GLBT Affairs)
Sgt. Carlos Meija (Head, GLLU & Latino Liaison Unit)
Lt. Allen Thomas (from MPD)
John Faust, from the Police Academy
Representatives from local community organizations including three DCTC members and folks from SMYAL, WEAVE (Women Empowered Against Violence), PFLAG-DC, GLOV, DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Break the Cycle
-They began by outlining the changes that the MPD is making to the liaison units in general. They plan to have officers volunteer for a special training program, and then these officers will be available as liaisons during their standard patrol assignments throughout the city. However, they are not dismantling the current units. These police volunteers will receive 32 hours of shared classroom training, (3 days general liaison training, 1 day for their specific unit such as GLLU) followed by spending a week in field training with the GLLU (or other appropriate liaison unit).
*Note: This is a volunteer training that is different from, and more in-depth than, training that all officers receive. DCTC has had separate meetings with Sgt. Meija, Lt. Thomas and John Faust to discuss the curriculum and implementation of that more general training. The less intensive training used to be done at UDC in classrooms, where a member of the trans community was able to present material prepared by trans volunteers from outside the police force. Due to funding, they cut the classroom training, and began using a powerpoint-style presentation summarizing trans issues and the General Order on Handling Interactions with Transgender Individuals. This was done without notifying or seeking input from our communities, and DCTC has voiced our concerns over this lack of oversight. We have been told that we will have an opportunity to give input into 2010’s more general, none-GLLU specific training as well. We have consulted some folks in our communities who are most directly affected by policing, and so far it seems we more or less unanimously feel that this training should be done by a trans person. We have been given copies of the slides used in the training and have been able to ask questions to the trainers, so we’ll keep folks updated on that process as well.
-They asked us about important topics that should be raised during the Liaison training. Questions were brought up including:
-whether these liaisons would be available for community interaction
-Whether the names and locations of these officers would be made public
-There were a bunch of specific points raised about trans people’s lack of consistent identification causing problems with police, arrest or harassment for “walking while trans” (ie, assuming trans women are sex workers), the issue of LGBT youth and homelessness/truancy (ie, LGBT youth may be homeless or skipping school because they have an unsafe or hostile home and cops should realize that), ensuring that cops respect people’s identities and especially that they don’t make assumptions when speaking to the media about trans people, etc
-They are looking for input on the following issues:
-available community resources that can be distributed to officers to make use of and distribute
-Community outreach and interaction during the week long field training and other events
-They’d like case studies and scenarios that they can use in training
-powerpoint modules that can be used in other sorts of training for a more general population-they are willing to take submissions
There will be a public Open House on Nov. 17th to discuss these issues, interaction with the community, the placement and interaction of these liaisons, and related issues. We should try to send as many members as possible.