DC LGBT Community Organizations’ Statement in Opposition to MPD’s Plan to Restructure GLLU

After some lengthy discussions, DCTC decided to sign on to a statement proposed by local GLBT organizations opposing the Metropolitan Police Department’s plan to restructure the Gay & Lesbian Liasion Unit. Our primary objection is that the process has been done hastily and with almost no transparency, so that community groups have been left in the dark about the possible implications this could have. Further, though the police made multiple promises to include community organizations (such as domestic violence advocates) in the development of the new GLLU officer training, this was not followed through until after a great deal of pressure was applied. Even then, we were given about two days notice before the training took place to prepare materials.

At the training, it was clear that most MPD officers are scarcely aware of the protections for trans people under the Human Rights Law or that they are required by an MPD General Order to respect trans people’s identities. This ignorance has severe consequences for trans people, especially those who frequently interact with police – for example, if an officer is called to respond to a dispute about a trans woman using a women’s restroom, for the trans person’s safety, the officer needs to be aware that trans people are guaranteed the legal right to use the public gender-segregated facility consistent to their identity.

We should also point out that the short, hastily-prepared training mentioned above was only for a handful of volunteer GLLU officers. DCTC will continue to apply appropriate pressure to try to mitigate problems like this by calling for comprehensive, mandatory training for all officers. For background, see our page for our Police Campaign.

DC TRANS COALITION • GAY AND LESBIAN ACTIVISTS ALLIANCE
GAYS AND LESBIANS OPPOSING VIOLENCE • GERTRUDE STEIN DEMOCRATIC CLUB
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2009
Contact: Sadie Ryanne Baker, DC Trans Coalition, 202.557.1951
Rick Rosendall, GLAA, 202.328.6278
Chris Farris, GLOV, 202.368.5321
Broad Coalition of LGBT Community Organizations Oppose Metropolitan Police
Department Plan to Restructure Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit
Groups object to flaws and inadequacies found throughout new GLLU training program for
affiliate officers.
Washington, DC – Today a broad coalition of DC’s LGBT community groups stand together to
express our severe disappointment with the Metropolitan Police Department’s ill-conceived plan
to restructure the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU). MPD Chief Cathy Lanier is poised to
call this initiative a success, but we are unfortunately quite skeptical. An award-winning unit has
been effectively dismantled without meaningful input from the very community that unit serves.
Lanier is quick to point out that she and her staff have held meetings with community members
to discuss their plans, but she fails to mention that not one critique of her plan was accepted.
In spite of repeated requests, MPD has not been able to say how many officers will serve GLLU
full-time (there is currently only one, with three on full-time leave), whether GLLU will again
have a full-time sergeant, or how new affiliated officers will be effectively coordinated to both
respond to LGBT issues and learn and share best practices. Many members of our communities
have had exceptionally negative experiences with police, while others have enjoyed quite
positive interactions – these latter advances have often been credited to GLLU’s outreach work
both within and outside the MPD. Thus to upend this unit without seeking real community input
calls into question MPD’s self-stated claim to serve our communities. We look forward to MPD
demonstrating its willingness to act in good faith to work with us in both cleaning up the fallout
from this hasty restructuring program and in making additional progress in other areas.
Moreover, community members have been largely shut out of the process to develop the training
course for GLLU’s new affiliate officers, which concluded last Friday. Lanier has boasted that
32 hours of classroom training have been provided to these officers. However, only 2 of those
hours featured any discussion whatsoever of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)
issues. The MPD promised to share its training curriculum with community representatives at a
meeting on October 22, yet failed to do so. At that same meeting, organizations were promised
an invitation to suggest reading materials, case studies and specific modules for the training
program. Finally, the Chief stated under oath at a City Council Hearing on November 20 that
she would share the curriculum for the training with the LGBT community and incorporate their
feedback. There was absolutely no follow-up to this invitation, despite repeated requests by
LGBT community organizations. Last week, some LGBT community leaders were invited to
speak at the training session (for 10-15 minutes each). They were given less than two days and
asked to prepare outlines of their presentations before attending. This left no time for any real
DC TRANS COALITION • GAY AND LESBIAN ACTIVISTS ALLIANCE PAGE 2
GAYS AND LESBIANS OPPOSING VIOLENCE • GERTRUDE STEIN DEMOCRATIC CLUB
preparation, and only allowed for a few minutes of time for community members – almost
entirely volunteers – to present anything at all.
In addition, individuals who were able to sit in on the training are deeply concerned about
numerous errors of omission and commission that will seriously endanger DC’s LGBT
communities. Specific concerns include:
 Failure to consult with the LGBT community to foster confidence and gather community
input to inform the training,
 Failure to follow through on the commitment to have stand-alone GLLU training for at
least half a day – instead, training was limited to less than two hours, and with combined
attendees from both the GLLU and the Latino Liaison Unit;
 Failure to provide culturally competent training for officers on how to sensitively
approach and manage specific needs for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual
and gender non-conforming individuals;
 Failure to include in the curriculum any discussion of the distinction between sexual
orientation and gender identity;
 Failure to discuss the need to actively curtail profiling trans individuals as criminals;
 Failure to address domestic violence situations, which make up 82 percent of GLLU’s
caseload, until after training was well underway, which converted what limited LGBT
Domestic Violence training there was into a mopping-up exercise;
 Failure to provide guidance and training on how to appropriately track and record hate
crimes related to an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression;
 Failure to address strategies on how to ensure a supportive workplace for lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender affiliate officers and those performing LGBT liaison duties;
 Failure to develop a public education plan aimed at encouraging community members to
report homophobic and transphobic violence and crimes;
 Failure to encourage affiliate officers to attend significant LGBT events to promote
visibility and develop strong and meaningful relationships between police and LGBT
community members.
There is a critical need for a more comprehensive LGBT training program to be provided before
new affiliate officers are certified as GLLU members – a training program that is developed in
partnership with the LGBT community. This includes intensive field training with existing
GLLU officers, and in-depth classroom training that covers the range of safety, discrimination,
and access to justice issues that LGBT individuals face across this city. We also feel strongly
that we need answers to the key questions on the size, structure, and responsibilities of the GLLU
moving forward. We hope that MPD acts quickly to demonstrate a genuine commitment to
community safety, and cooperates with concerned individuals and organizations to address its
flawed GLLU restructuring program.
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