Thirteen representatives of the LGBT community met on Tuesday with D.C. Police Chef Cathy Lanier and other police officials to discuss what participants said was a range of issues related to police response to anti-LGBT violence.
“It was very productive and a lot of information was exchanged,” said Rick Rosendall, vice president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.
According to accounts by Rosendall; Chris Farris, former chair of the local group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV); and gay activist Nick McCoy, Lanier made it clear that she would take strict disciplinary action against police officers who fail to follow the department’s policies for responding to calls for help by citizens, including LGBT citizens.
The activists said Lanier was referring to the widely publicized incident in late July when five lesbians were attacked and beaten by two male suspects outside the Columbia Heights Metro station and police officers responding to the scene refused to take a report. Two of the victims in the attack said the officers also released one of the attackers after initially holding him after the victims identified him as one of the men who assaulted them.
Police have since arrested one of the two attackers on a charge of simple assault and making threats of bodily harm. The charges were listed as anti-lesbian bias-related crimes.
Lanier has said the matter was under investigation but the officers could be fired for failing to take a police report.
Farris said Lanier also expressed concern and promised to look into reports by the activists attending the meeting that members of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit have been far less visible in the community over the past few years compared to past years. GLOV members have complained that officers and police investigators, such as homicide detectives, haven’t been calling on the GLLU for assistance in LGBT-related cases in an apparent violation of department policy.
McCoy said that in response to concerns raised by transgender activists Earline Budd, Jeri Hughes, and others, Lanier promised to determine whether the department can improve its communication with the LGBT community when seeking help in solving crimes against transgender people. Hughes raised concerns that homicide investigators have yet to make visible progress on at least three unsolved murders of transgender women.
“She made a commitment to follow up on all of these things,” said Farris.
Among those attending the meeting, in addition to Rosendall, Farris, Budd, and Hughes, were Brian Watson of Transgender Health Empowerment; Ruby Corado and Jason Terry of the D.C. Trans Coalition; June Crenshaw and Shauna Fecher of Rainbow Response Coalition, a local group that monitors LGBT-related domestic violence; A.J. Singletary of GLOV; and local activists Alison Gardner and Isaiah Toney.
Deputy Chief Diane Groomes was among the police officials who joined Lanier at the meeting.