Metro Weekly

MPD Special Liaison Branch Supervisor Brett Parson to retire after 26 years of service

Lt. David Hong will succeed Parson as SLB supervisor, which oversees MPD's LGBT Liaison Unit

MPD Lt. Brett Parson — Photo: Todd Franson

After 26 years of service, Lt. Brett Parson, the supervisor of the MPD’s nationally-recognized Special Liaison Branch, is retiring.

From June 2001 to January 2007, Parson served as head of the former Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, then headquartered in the city’s historic Dupont Circle “gayborhood.”

Throughout his years on the beat, Parson was a frequent fixture at Capital Pride, the annual High Heel Race, LGBTQ-specific celebrations, and memorials or vigils for LGBTQ people killed by violence.

Many local activists and advocates had close working relationships with Parson, who became the department’s go-to expert on dealing with crimes involving or affecting members of the LGBTQ community.

After returning to patrol for 10 months, he was tapped by former MPD Chief Cathy Lanier to head the reorganized Special Liaison Unit, which was tasked with developing a plan to expand the special liaison unit’s services and culturally competent training to all seven of the city’s police districts.

He left again in 2009 to return to patrol, a change of pace after having spent the better part of a decade overseeing the department’s liaison units.

“I was ready to get back into responding to calls for service and pounding the pavement on a day-to-day basis,” Parson told Metro Weekly in an interview in 2017, when he returned for a third time, holding the title of acting supervisor of the renamed Special Liaison Branch. 

In a press release issued Thursday, MPD announced that Lt. David Hong has been selected to succeed Parson, who, in his current role as SLB supervisor, oversees the department’s specialized liaison units that serve the Asian, Latino, deaf and hard-of-hearing, and LGBTQ communities.

In addition to solving crimes, the liaison units also provides support with incidents that are not necessarily criminal, such as linking victims with external community service organizations or non-police services, locating missing persons, and hosting meetings to either alert the community to potential threats, or to establish stronger relationships and foster trust between members of specific communities and the police.

Hong, the child of immigrants from South Korea, and a native of Rochester, N.Y., has a degree in criminal justice from Damon College in Rochester, and has amassed substantial investigative and supervisory experience since joining MPD in 2007.

Hong also has experience dealing with the communities that are served by the liaison units. He previously served as an officer in the First Police District, which includes D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood, and as a sergeant in the Fifth District, which includes Gallaudet University and the nearby neighborhoods that contain a sizable portion of the District’s deaf or hard-of-hearing communities.

He most recently worked in the Sixth District, encompassing the city’s Mayfair, Deanwood, Fort Dupont, Randle Highlands, and Hillcrest neighborhoods — which contain a significant LGBTQ presence.

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

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