January 6, 2016 at 10:20 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Chief changes name of D.C. police gay liaison unit
LGBTLU, Cathy Lanier, MPD, Metropolitan Police Department, gay news, Washington Blade

Police Chief Cathy Lanier changed the name of the GLLU to LGBTLU. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier issued an internal message to all members of the force on Tuesday announcing that the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit has changed its name to include the words bisexual and transgender.

“In an effort to be inclusive to all members of the LGBT community, the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit will change its name to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Liaison Unit (LGBTLU),” Lanier said in her message.

“This name change will be recognizable to all members of the LGBT community seeking assistance from the Metropolitan Police Department,” she said.

The name change comes 10 months after Lanier named Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, an out transgender woman, as supervisor of the GLLU. Hawkins became the first transgender person to hold that position.

As of late Tuesday, the department had not publicly announced the name change. The Washington Blade obtained a copy of the chief’s message, which also bears the name of Assistant Chief Diane Groomes. Groomes heads the department’s Patrol Services Bureau, which oversees the police liaison units.

Sources familiar with the department told the Blade that Lt. Cheryl Crawley, commander of the department’s Special Liaison Division, which oversees the LGBTLU, informed about a dozen LGBT activists about the name change in an email sent on Tuesday evening.

The activists receiving the email are members of an LGBT advisory group created by the department called the Violence Prevention and Response Team. The group, known as VPART, meets with Crawley and Sheila Alexander Reid, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, in closed session once a month.

“As previously discussed in VPART meetings, and after receiving input from partners of the community, the Special Liaison Division would like to announce a name change to the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit,” Crawley said in her email.

David Mariner, executive director of the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community and a member of VPART, said he was pleased with the name change, saying it reflects the full LGBT community that the former GLLU has served since its founding in the 1990s.

“We welcome the change,” said Mariner, who noted that the LGBTLU name change comes shortly after a D.C. Center sponsored group called Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) changed its name to the D.C. LGBT Anti-Violence Project.

Jason Terry, an official with the D.C. Trans Coalition, said he, too, was pleased with the police liaison unit’s name change. But Terry, who has been a critic of the department’s response to an independent report that called for further improvements in D.C. police relations with the trans community, said further action was needed.

“I think it’s more important that we see substantive change at MPD along with cosmetic change like this,” he said.

The number of LGBTLU officers was reduced from five to four last fall when then GLLU Officer Jason Markiewicz requested and received approval to be transferred out of the unit to a patrol assignment in the Sixth Police District. As of last month, Lanier had not replaced Markiewicz with a newly appointed member.

Markiewicz’s departure came at a time when the department was facing a shortage of officers due to what police officials have called a “retirement bubble” in which more officers were retiring than could be replaced by new recruits. As of the spring of 2015, the shortage prompted Lanier to reassign then GLLU members to non-GLLU duties for half of their daily shift assignments, sources familiar with the unit said.

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

6 Comments
  • “Closed session,” indeed.

    So VPART is just another Bowser/MPD, cherry-picked, secret police fraud, huh?

    “What LGBTQs don’t know, can’t hurt us.”

    I’ll bet a fiver that’s how they reason.

    —————–
    **
    The group, known as VPART, meets with Crawley and Sheila Alexander Reid, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, in closed session once a month. “As previously discussed in VPART meetings, and after receiving input from partners of the community, the Special Liaison Division would like to announce a name change to the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit,” Crawley said in her email. **

  • “In an effort to be inclusive to all members of the LGBT community, the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit will change its name to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Liaison Unit (LGBTLU),” Lanier said in her message.”

    Well, that makes everything better :-)

  • Back when they were actually doing work, everyone in the LGBTQIA…etc community knew that the GLLU was inclusive, regardless of the letters in the acronym. Now, years after that the chief decimated the former award-winning unit, MPD is attempting to put some window dressing on a miserable failure.

    • You can say that again, Tim.

      Connect the dots from the MPD/ ADL-DC/ DC center history links below, and then ask yourself…

      Why all the secrecy from VPART? Doesn’t that just render VPART a sham, fraudulent gathering (assuming they really ‘meet’ at all)?

      Why all the secrecy from MPD/ Lanier/ Groomes/ LGBTLU and the Mayor’s so-called LGBT Affairs Office?

      And why the lack of news from The DC Center and its supposedly re-invorated GLOV/ DCAVP?

      If DCAVP (GLOV) really wanted new members for a reinvigorated anti-violence organization, you’d think Mariner and TDCC would want to shout about that– or maybe just highlight that on their weekly newsletter. Why not?

      So… GLLU/LGBTLU and its, ultra-secretive VPART ‘parent’ organization appears to provide the illusion of LGBTQ public safety– without doing the real community policing work to achieve sustainable public safety and policing services for all LGBTQs.

      This, too, bears repeating from above…

      **
      “I think it’s more important that we see substantive change at MPD along with cosmetic change like this,” he [Jason Terry] said. **

      We all owe a debt of gratitude to Jason Terry and his ongoing activism on behalf of LGBTQ public safety.

      I think we can judge for ourselves what VPART’s real mission is…

      — How about tight control of news and information regarding anti-LGBT hate crimes and anti-LGBT biased policing– including at MPD’s highest levels?

      Again, connect the relationship dots…

      Lanier/MPD/LGBTLU, Bowser/Alexander-Reid, Friedman/ADL, Mariner/The DC Center/GLOV/DCAVP… ergo, VPART?

      Why should such a cozy group need such secrecy?

      http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/02/27/trans-group-d-c-hate-crimes-review-biased-toward-police/

      http://www.glaa.org/archive/2011/mariner2friedman0420.shtml

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