D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier’s ongoing agenda of reconfiguring the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) has raised a number of red flags in the LGBT community.
Why “fix” an acclaimed program that’s not broken? Lanier’s general argument is that while the unit has been so successful from its Dupont Circle headquarters, that success needs to be spread to all corners of the District. In that effort, the Dupont core has been downsized, but more officers are being trained — on a voluntary basis — in GLLU protocol.
With that weeklong training ending Dec. 4, there’s yet another red flag. Last week, Dec. 9, some LGBT groups joined to announce their complaints.
”I’m severely disappointed,” said Sadie Baker of the DC Trans Coalition. ”I think the primary concern of the DC Trans Coalition is that the [new GLLU] training is completely not sufficient. It’s basic stuff that everyone should get.”
The sessions in question offered general orientation of the MPD’s Special Liaison Units (SLU). The umbrella SLU includes the GLLU along with special units intended to work with the Asian, Latino and deaf/hard-of-hearing communities. According to earlier numbers from the MPD, 23 officers asked for the GLLU-specific training, presented on the last day of the program, with the volunteer officers moving into groups geared toward one of the four units.
Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes says the training produced 35 officers now familiar with GLLU services. Chris Farris, co-chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), who provided part of the GLLU-specific training, says he spoke to about 30 officers, 13 of whom identified themselves as training for the GLLU.
Along with GLOV (an affiliate program of The Center, D.C.’s LGBT community center) and the DC Trans Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) and the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club joined in criticizing the recent training.
Baker says, however, this coalition is not branded under an official title, instead functioning more as ”a partnership” for the organizations.
”We all have slightly different strategies for what we’re working on,” she says. ”I think it sends a powerful message that we are coming together around these shared concerns and issues.”
The group’s first joint effort was this release announcing opposition to MPD’s plans to restructure GLLU. The release highlighted the coalition’s concerns, including that the training curriculum was crafted without input from the LGBT community: ”The MPD promised to share its training curriculum with community representatives at a meeting on Oct. 22, yet failed to do so.”
The coalition also noted that while Lanier has ”boasted” of 32 hours of SLU training being provided to officers, ”only 2 of those hours featured any discussion whatsoever of [LGBT] issues.”
Groomes told Metro Weekly last week that there was room for improvement with the training, and that MPD hopes for more dialogue with the LGBT community. She added that some advanced training should occur in June 2010.