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Police Departments Try To Repair Relations With LGBTQ Community

As anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, laws and violence surge across the U.S., more police departments have appointed liaisons in an attempt to repair the relationship between law enforcement and the queer community, reports USA Today. Experts say liaisons and brief trainings can't address the needs of the community's most vulnerable members, including queer people of color and Black transgender people. "The whole model of having a liaison doesn't quite make sense if the predominant issue is overpolicing queer people within racial minority communities," said Joseph Fischel, associate professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Yale University. "Workshops led by LGBT organizations on how to use the right pronouns and so on and so forth is kind of window dressing or rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." Attending community events, particularly Pride parades, is "critically important" to help bridge the gap in communication between the LGBTQ community and local law enforcement. The gap means 13% of LGBTQ people said they do not call the police even when they need help, found a study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

Still, police officers have been banned or restricted — by organizers of the events — from participating at Pride in Toronto, Washington, D.C., and New York in recent years with some in the community saying police shouldn't be in uniform at events that originated from the 1969 police raid at the Stonewall Inn. Nicole Brown, supervisor of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department's LGBT Liaison Unit, said she attends between five and six events a week, which she said has helped build trust with residents and advocates before a crime occurs. Police need to do more outreach within the transgender community, Brown acknowledged. She recalled spending time with an advocate reaching out to sex workers and said their primary needs — employment, health care, housing — can't be met by police. "They feel like their house is on fire and we're ignoring it," she said. "If I'm being honest with you, that's one of the things we could do better going forward."


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