Metro Weekly

Head of MPD LGBT Liaison Unit could face disciplinary action

Sgt. Jessica Hawkins is accused of taking underage interns to a bar and engaging in other inappropriate behavior

Jessica Hawkins -- Photo: Julian Vankim

Jessica Hawkins — Photo: Julian Vankim

The head of the Metropolitan Police Department’s LGBT Liaison Unit was has been accused of engaging in inappropriate behavior on the job, including allegations that she accompanied two underage interns to a local bar.

Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, who became the first openly transgender officer within MPD, and the first openly transgender supervisor in the department, remains a popular figure among members of D.C.’s LGBT community. At a recent Transgender Day of Remembrance event, Hawkins was given a shout-out from the stage and a round of applause from the audience for her work with the LGBT Liaison Unit. Several speakers attested to the assistance she had given them when they were victims of violence.

But according to an investigation by FOX 5 DC, Hawkins was recently the focus of an internal investigation after she was accused of abusing her authority and unbecoming conduct. The allegations against her were eventually sent to the office of D.C.’s Attorney General for review.

Specifically, Hawkins was accused of taking two underage summer interns assigned to her unit out drinking with other MPD officers at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington, Va. One of the interns admitted to having a fake ID and showed it to Hawkins, who reportedly laughed at it. FOX 5 reported that Hawkins was also accused of showing the interns a “homemade video of her having sex with four men while she was intoxicated.”

MPD’s internal affairs bureau found the majority of the allegations were sustained. During that internal investigation, Hawkins reportedly admitted the allegations were true, said she pulled out her cellphone and told her interns, ‘If you want to watch it, it’s right here,’ and admitted to showing others an inappropriate picture. She also admitted to buying alcohol and drinking it inside an MPD facility with other officers while on duty.

MPD released a statement addressing the allegations against Hawkins. The statement reads: “Following misconduct allegations, Sergeant Jessica Hawkins was the focus of a recent internal affairs investigation. That investigation has concluded and the findings are currently with the MPD’s disciplinary review division.

“The DRD will review and determine an appropriate penalty. Throughout the investigation, Sergeant Hawkins remains in her current assignment and is still widely considered a valuable MPD team member in our special liaison division.”

Appearing on WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show, interim MPD Chief Peter Newsham that while the department took the allegations seriously, but pushed back against the idea that Hawkins had been suspended, as FOX 5 had initially reported. He also called Hawkins “a pretty remarkable person” who had overcome much to rise to her current position.

“She has not been suspended. There has been an allegation of misconduct. The allegation is going through the disciplinary process,” Newsham said. “One of the things I will say about this particular person is that she is human, as are all of my police officers. My police officers are human and they do make mistakes.

“When there are allegations of misconduct, we take it very, very seriously, and we let the disciplinary process run its course. The idea behind any discipline is to prevent the behavior from happening again. If we’re confident that the discipline that is necessary prevents anything from happening again, we’ve done what we need to do.”

Newsham also said he hoped that the story was not getting press simply because of anti-transgender bias being leveled at Hawkins. When political analyst Tom Sherwood questioned if that was the case, Newsham said the possibility gave him pause, adding that he has over 400 sergeants within MPD and is surprised that the allegations against Hawkins should make news ahead of other disciplinary actions taken against other sergeants.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com