July 6, 2012 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
UPDATE: GLLU gets temporary new sergeant
GLLU, gay news, gay politics dc

Members of the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

A sergeant from the D.C. Police Department’s Sixth District began work on July 1 as supervisor of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit as part of a three-month training program and will return to the Sixth District upon completion of the program, according to a police spokesperson.

Earlier reports from police sources, now said to be incorrect, indicated that Sgt. Matthew Mahl would become the new permanent supervisor of the GLLU, marking the first time the unit has had a full-time supervisor assigned exclusively to the unit since 2009.

“Sergeant Mahl is an affiliate member [of the GLLU] and he is rotating through as part of his training,” Police Chief Cathy Lanier said on Friday in an email to gay activist Peter Rosenstein.

In a separate email, police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump told the Blade, “Sgt. Mahl is an affiliate and like every member who attends affiliate training, he is rotating through and will return to his assigned element at the end of his detail.”

Lanier told the Blade in an interview last week that GLLU affiliate members are detailed to the GLLU headquarters in Dupont Circle for a 90-day training period before being rotated back to their regular assignment in one of the department’s seven districts.

Some local LGBT activists have urged Lanier to appoint a full-time sergeant to head the GLLU instead of retaining the unit’s current status of being headed by a sergeant who divides his duties between the GLLU and the department’s Latino Liaison Unit.

Since 2009, Sgt. Carlos Mejia has served as supervisor of both the GLLU and the Latino Liaison Unit. He has been praised by LGBT activists who say he has been doing an excellent job.

But the activists, including leaders of the local group Gays and Lesbian Opposing Violence (GLOV), have said the liaison units would be better served – as they had in past years – with a full-time sergeant assigned exclusively to each of the units, including the GLLU.

“I’m glad that Sgt. Mahl is rotating through the GLLU for training but we are still hoping that previous commitments from the chief and the mayor will secure a fulltime permanent sergeant for the unit,” Rosenstein said on Friday.

In her email to the Blade, Crump said Mejia and Sgt. Kenny Temsupasiri are permanently assigned to the Special Liaison Division, which oversees the GLLU, the Latino Liaison Unit and two other special units — the Asian Liaison Unit and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit.

Temsupasiri heads both the Asian and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Units.

Mahl told the Blade on Thursday that during his tenure at the Special Liaison Division he would serve as full-time supervisor of the GLLU and Mejia would serve exclusively as the Latino Liaison Unit’s supervisor.

“He’s helping me out getting things settled down here,” Mahl said of Mejia.

Capt. Edward Delgado, who heads the Special Liaison Division, sent an email on Thursday to LGBT advocates and various LGBT organizations announcing Mahl’s assignment at the GLLU.

“I would like for each of you to introduce yourself and inform him of the services that each of your organizations provide the community,” Delgado said in his email. “I know that he has been out in the community conducting meet and greet sessions. Therefore, let’s give Sgt. Mahl a warm welcome and support him while he is detailed to the Special Liaison Division,” he said.

Mahl said he has been on the police force for eight and a half years. He began as an officer assigned to the Third District and was assigned to the Sixth District shortly after being promoted to sergeant in 2009.

He said he’s looking forward to working with the LGBT community during his tenure as a GLLU supervisor.

 

Original post below:

A sergeant from the D.C. Police Department’s Sixth District has been named supervisor of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, marking the first time the unit has had a full-time supervisor assigned exclusively to the unit since 2009.

Sgt. Matthew Mahl has replaced Sgt. Carlos Mejia, who had been serving as supervisor of both the GLLU and the Latino Liaison Unit.

LGBT activists, while praising Mejia for his work at the GLLU, have long called on police officials to name a sergeant to head the GLLU who spends all of his or her time assigned to the unit.

But the head of the police division that oversees the GLLU and three other special police liaison units, Capt. Edward Delgado, suggested in an email sent to LGBT activists on Thursday that Mahl’s assignment with the GLLU could be short-lived.

“I would like to welcome Sergeant Matthew Mahl who is an Affiliate Sergeant from the Sixth District,” Delgado said in his email. “He is detailed to the unit to get a better understanding of GLLU operations and requirements…Therefore, let’s give Sergeant Mahl a warm welcome and support him while he is detailed to the Special Liaison Division.”

A police spokesperson couldn’t immediately be reached to determine whether Mahl’s tenure at the GLLU is consider permanent or temporary.

The Special Liaison Division oversees the GLLU as well as the Latino Liaison Unit, the Asian and Pacific Islander Liaison Unit, and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit.

Mahl said Mejia, who is helping him “get on the ground running” at the GLLU, will remain as head of the Latino Liaison Unit.

“The plan is for him to just take over full time the Latino Liaison and myself the Gay and Lesbian Liaison,” Mahl told the Blade on Thursday. “He’s helping me out getting things settled down here.”

Former D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey created the GLLU in the late 1990s as one of the first such units in a large metropolitan police department to be given full authority to make arrests and investigate crimes as well as reach out to the LGBT community.

Current D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier expanded the GLLU and the other three liaison units over the past four years to include dozens of affiliate officers assigned to each of the department’s seven police districts.

The GLLU affiliate officers, who receive training on LGBT related issues, respond to calls in their respective districts on matters such as anti-LGBT hate crimes or LGBT related domestic violence.

The GLLU’s headquarters in Dupont Circle currently includes five full-time “core” officers along with Mahl as supervisor. An aide to Lanier said last week that there are currently 99 GLLU affiliate officers based in the seven police districts.

Sgt. Brett Parson served as full-time supervisor of the GLLU from 2001 to 2007, receiving praise from LGBT activists for having a highly visible presence in the community. Parson served as head of the then Special Liaison Office, which oversaw the GLLU and the other three liaison units, between 2007 and 2009.

In 2009 Parson also took on the role of GLLU head after his replacement, Sgt. Tania Bell, left the unit. Later that year Parson requested a transfer to a street patrol position, saying his first love as a cop was to focus more on active crime-fighting duties. It was at that time that Lanier assigned Mejia to serve as supervisor of the GLLU while retaining his existing post as supervisor of the Latino Liaison Unit.

Lanier said that due to city budget cuts and police spending constraints, it became necessary to assign Mejia to take on the dual role of supervisor of both units.

The two other special liaison units – the Asian Pacific Islander Liaison Unit and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit – retained a full-time sergeant serving as supervisor.

Mahl said he was approached about taking on the role as head of the GLLU by Deputy Police Chief Diane Groomes and Delgado.

He said he has been on the force for eight and a half years. He said he began as an officer in the Third District and was promoted to sergeant in 2009 before being assigned to the Sixth District. Mahl said he looks forward to his duties with the GLLU and will be meeting with LGBT advocates and various LGBT organizations over the next few weeks.

“I don’t know how long these things last, but I’m here for now,” he said, when asked whether he was told how long his detail with the GLLU would last.

As of Thursday, the department had not issued an official announcement of Mahl’s assignment to the GLLU.

A.J. Singletary, chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), which monitors police related issues, said he was unaware of Mahl’s assignment as GLLU head until the Blade contacted him about the development.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “Having someone talking on this role is something we have been asking for and the community has been asking for. GLOV has always called for having a full-time sergeant.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

2 Comments
  • ****
    “I don’t know how long these things last, but I’m here for now,” he said, when asked whether he was told how long his detail with the GLLU would last.
    ****
    When it comes to commitment and support of MPD’s core GLLU unit, that is the kind of uncertainty DC’s LGBT residents have come to expect from MPD’s leadership since 2007.

    Let’s hope Sgt. Mahl is permitted to stay at GLLU and assist in serious policing to deter hate crimes against DC’s LGBT residents and visitors.

    We appreciate your service, Sgt. Mahl.

  • ******
    But the activists, including leaders of the local group Gays and Lesbian Opposing Violence (GLOV), have said the liaison units would be better served – as they had in past years – with a full-time sergeant assigned exclusively to each of the units, including the GLLU.
    ******

    At a time when anti-LGBT hate crimes are on the rise in DC, Chief Lanier, through command actions that belie her public relations platitudes, continues to show her barely disguised contempt for DC’s LGBT communities. Items from an ongoing, sorry record…

    – In Lanier’s recent interview, she sent up another anti-GLLU trial-balloon, asserting her continued desire to “put the GLLU unit out of business.” Apparently, citing an inexplicable “people are people” homily, DC’s Chief does not really believe that DC’s LGBT population is worthy of special liaison community policing.
    – Accordingly, we learn now that Sgt. Mahl’s assignment to GLLU will only be temporary. GLLU’s core unit continues its downgraded and confusing status by MPD’s chiefs. It’s more death by a thousand cuts.
    – Lanier’s sterling, but cherry-picked task force study of MPD’s handling of hate crimes and LGBT community policing has EXCLUDED our premier local civil right advocacy groups from decisional participation in that task force (GLAA, GLOV and DCTC). These organizations enjoy the broad support of, and credibility within DC’s LGBT populations, as they are the activists most experienced and familiar with MPD’s LGBT community policing practices.
    – Through the June 29 hate crimes hearings at Council, we’ve learned that MPD’s LGBT Critical Incident Team has been more of a PR exercise than anything in which MPD seriously participates/ communicates with the LGBT community.
    – Under pressure by LGBT activists to do so, Chief Lanier has resurrected former Chief Ramsey’s *Biased Policing Task Force* (while renaming it as if to deny that any biased policing takes place at MPD). But at the same Council hearing last week, we learned that MPD’s leadership continues its own institutional bias against DC transgender residents and stakeholders by again EXCLUDING DCTC from participation in THAT MPD task force.

    When DC’s LGBT residents and visitors witness this kind of record– even institutional bias and discrimination from the highest levels of the Metropolitan Police Department, is it any wonder that so many do not trust DC’s police department under Chief Cathy Lanier?

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