Acknowledging that some members of the Baltimore City Police Department are not as sensitive to LGBT issues as they should be, Commissioner Anthony W. Batts pledged to “add tools to the toolbox” to remedy the situation. He was referring to stepped-up training to “change the culture in the department.”
Batts appeared before two-dozen LGBT community activists and city residents at a town hall meeting on April 14 at the Northwest District Community Action Center in Baltimore to provide the status of progress in police-LGBT relations. It was the second such meeting—the other occurred last October—organized by the 10-member LGBT Advisory Council that was formed at the behest of Batts following the beating of a gay man, Kenni Shaw, then 25, in East Baltimore on Christmas night of 2012.
Audience members brought up specific concerns, such as mistrust between the police and transgender residents, police response to domestic violence, need for policies that protect gender variant individuals when interacting with the police, dispatch policies, a reporting mechanism for negative interactions between the police and the community and fear of reprisals if such interactions are reported.
Batts said he would meet more frequently with the LGBT community and would work hard to resolve the issues.