Today we join six colleague organizations in a new LGBTQ Report Card on the Status of Metropolitan Police Department Implementation of Recommendations from the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force and Community Response. A year ago, MPD released the findings of its independent Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force, along with the Department’s response. We issued our own joint response to those reports, and now we report on progress made thus far in what is expected to be a long and far-reaching process of transforming relationships between MPD and LGBTQ populations in DC.
The Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) and Affiliate Officer Program
Earlier this month, Sgt. Jessica Hawkins took over the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit on a full-time basis. She is the first openly trans person to hold this role, and we look forward to working with her. That said, we are concerned that GLLU officers are now regularly detailed to ordinary patrol duties throughout the city. This dramatically reduces the unit’s capacity to engage in proactive outreach and relationship building, especially among trans populations. The affiliate liaison officer program, aimed at expanding capacities for all MPD Special Liaison Units, will resume recruiting later this year, using a refined selection process and a new approach to training.
LGBTQ Cultural Competency Training
MPD has committed to training all its personnel on LGBTQ cultural competency in calendar year 2015, and we expect classes to begin soon. Though the training development process has not always been smooth, we appreciate the opportunity to work together to create a quality product for officers and sergeants, which will soon be adapted for detectives and lieutenants and above. Quality control will be important to monitor throughout the year, and we encourage MPD to use the results of a training post-test to follow up with individual officers who may not perform well in training. Though community voices are included via video in the current module, we continue to look for ways to include community members most impacted by violence and negative police interactions, especially trans women of color and youth, in the training program.
Interactions with Trans Communities
Last year’s reports noted an urgent need for MPD to build trust with members of trans communities. We appreciate Chief Cathy Lanier’s participation in Transgender Day of Remembrance last year, as well as a town hall discussion last summer. That said, GLLU’s diminished capacity in recent months has negatively impacted this relationship building effort. It is imperative that MPD officers at all levels be accessible to trans communities and be visible at trans-serving organizations. Undoing years of mistrust will take a long-term, concentrated, proactive effort to establish new relationships. The Chief cannot do this alone. Ultimately trans communities need to see a shift in interactions on the street and believe that their needs are taken seriously when they request police service.
Hate Crime Data Collection, Training, and Policy
Training on hate crime response is included in MPD’s overall training effort this year. We continue to receive reports of officers refusing to mark reports as possible hate crimes until a supervisor or GLLU is involved, so we need to see greater respect given towards those reporting hate violence to ensure that these cases are properly reported and investigated. We are also working with MPD to find ways to better track violence against trans populations.
Intimate Partner Violence Training, Response, and Reporting
Appropriate response to violence within LGBTQ relationships is included in this year’s training module. We continue to review whether or not policy changes are required, and are hopeful that we can begin to collect better data on these cases as well, while respecting the privacy of those involved.
Interactions with Sex Workers
Finally, we appreciate the Council’s quick work last year to repeal the unconstitutional and inherently biased Prostitution Free Zones. While we have engaged in initial conversations with MPD on changes its approach to sex work policing, more work remains to be done.