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Growing rift between Lanier, LGBT community

Police chief, mayor must fully staff Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit

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Cathy Lanier
Cathy Lanier

Under Police Chief Cathy Lanier, the city’s award-winning GLLU has been effectively dismantled. (Blade file photo)

I continue to have a good relationship and like Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier on a personal level, but there is a growing rift between Lanier and the LGBT community. This is in stark contrast to the community’s strong relationship with former Chief Ramsey. The relationship with Lanier was good after her appointment but has since gone steadily downhill.

 

In December 2006 Mayor-elect Fenty named Lanier as his police chief. She quickly held a small but important getting-to-know-you meeting with a diverse group representing the LGBT community arranged by Lt. Brett Parson, then head of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU). This award-winning unit was the pride and joy of our community and an example Chief Ramsey often used when talking about good community policing.

Chief Lanier spoke highly of the unit and committed to keeping it at full strength, a campaign promise made by candidate Fenty. Barely four months later there were rumblings about her lack of support for the unit and liaison units as a whole. In May 2007 Lanier issued a statement that she was going to begin changing, and in essence dismantling, the units. There was an outcry from the LGBT and the Latino communities and opposition to the changes from the D.C. Council forced the chief to back down. There was a stormy meeting at MPD headquarters with the chief. In exchange for her saying it was a “rookie mistake,” the community issued a statement of continued support for her.

It seems possible — though I hope not the case — that Chief Lanier’s moves against the liaison units since that time, and her lack of communication, have been partly a response to the community having called her out on the issue and winning. In October 2009, the chief again announced a broad change in the GLLU structure without any consultation with the community. She claimed it had been in the works for a year. Unfortunately by then, Mayor Fenty had also abandoned his pledge to the community. The chief announced there would be trained members of the GLLU in every precinct who understood and could deal with the issues impacting the LGBT community.

The community responded and correctly stated that there had been no training and was then grudgingly allowed minimal input into the proposed training modules. By that time, the core unit of the GLLU was understaffed, without resources to respond to the community, and without a sergeant.

Since then there have been continued battles with the chief over the structure of the unit and Lanier has continued to make changes without consulting the community, resulting in a clear diminishment of service to the community. Training of the new officers who are nominally part of the unit has been sporadic and until recently the community never received an accurate list of who these officers were.

In the interim there has been a documented rise in hate crimes in the District with an overwhelming impact on the LGBT community, ranging from name calling, robbery and assault, to murder. There has been a Council resolution on hate crimes and two hearings held by Council member Phil Mendelson.

At both those hearings, Chief Lanier has either downplayed the issue or told outright untruths about hate crime reporting. Recently, Lanier made another change to the leadership of the liaison units and now they report to a civilian in the department. She made no effort to discuss this and its possible impact with any community and didn’t bother to inform the mayor who confirmed this at a town hall meeting with the LGBT community in June.

The recent attack on five lesbians in Columbia Heights and the fact that the officers responding let a perpetrator go and didn’t file a report on the incident highlight what the community has been saying for years. Although the chief’s concept of a GLLU spread out across the District is a nice idea conceptually, the MPD isn’t ready to effectively implement that. The community needs and demands a fully staffed and functioning core GLLU.

I understand and applaud the overall success that the MPD has had in fighting crime. But in our community hate crimes are a major issue and they getting worse. The chief and the mayor, who as a candidate made a commitment to fully staff the GLLU, must work this out and abide by that commitment. Nothing less than our lives are at stake.

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. brian

    August 17, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Thank you, Peter. You have provided an excellent historical account of Chief Lanier’s failed policies and actions with respect to MPD’s GLLU. Despite Lanier’s soothing PR words to the LGBT community, it is the de facto anti-LGBT messages that her official actions have repeatedly sent throughout MPD’s chain-of-command that concern many of us.

    IMO, the Chief’s mixed messages have contributed mightily to an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty within MPD itself, as to the Chiefs’ expectations of line officers’ duty to enforce DC’s tough hate crimes law. Certainly, throughout the LGBT community, residents are becoming increasingly fearful. They are also becoming rightfully outraged as they witness the Chief of Police and political leaders do little to end the rise in anti-LGBT hate crimes.

    “The community needs and demands a fully staffed and functioning core GLLU.”

    I couldn’t agree more. This is elementary common sense. But MPD’s chiefs have used a ruse of so-called “expansion” of GLLU to the local districts as an excuse to degrade an effective, award-winning MPD core unit. Chief Lanier has, IMHO, always sought to destroy GLLU since she became Chief in 2007. In any event, it has become evident that the GLLU “expansion” is a failure at MPD’s district levels, as well.

    Let’s hope the LGBT community recalls the recent promises of Mayor Gray, CM Mendelson and others on the Council regarding maintaining the strength of GLLU’s core unit.

    I would think the Council and Mayor Gray have the power to fulfill those promises through immediate emergency legislation forcing MPD to restore GLLU’s core office to its former strength. They can also direct MPD to actively recruit LGBT MPD officers to accomplish that, as well as train their fellow MPD officers at MPD district levels– with the close advice, support and oversight, of LGBT civilian groups, of course.

    It’s long past time to end the community’s growing fear and mistrust of MPD. As you’ve noted well, nothing less than LGBT public safety and lives are at stake.

  2. Rick Rosendall

    August 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    There is certainly a long list of concerns regarding MPD & the LGBT community. I thought the meeting that Lanier and other top MPD officials held with 13 LGBT activists on August 16 was constructive. The DC Trans Coalition summarizes the meeting here:
    http://tinyurl.com/3peqdzq

    Brian, I agree that GLLU should be fully staffed and functioning; but it is not appropriate for the Council to micromanage MPD to the extent of specifying the size of individual units, nor is there any likelihood they would do this. We must hold the Chief accountable, work with her as best we can, and also convey our concerns to Mayor Gray.

    GLAA had some strong criticisms of MPD in our “Agenda: 2010” policy brief: http://www.glaa.org/archive/2010/agenda2010.htm#_Toc266257916

    My latest column is called “Confronting Biased Policing”:
    http://tinyurl.com/3vgd38j

  3. laurelboy2

    August 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Peter, scribe emeritus, writes: “…The community needs and demands a fully staffed and functioning core GLLU…” In these days of limited resources if you “demand” something, Peter, why don’t you be the first to write a nice check to MPD to support your cause and start the ball rolling? Set an example that all of us can emulate.

    Peter concludes by writing “…Nothing less than our lives are at stake…” A little dramatic, Peter? My suggestion is to tone down the flaming rhetoric and come back over to the rational side. Moreover, I view my life at stake, in all aspects including financially, militarily, socially, and internationally, by a continuation of the Obama regime. On that, God forbid.

  4. Rick Rosendall

    August 17, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    laurelboy2: Really? Your life is at stake if Obama is re-elected? So you’d feel safer with a President Bachmann or Perry? Have you paid attention to these people? Discussion boards would be so much more enlightening if so many people were not drawn to the cheap trick of snide posturing as if it were an addictive substance. As to writing a check to MPD: huh? We’re talking about public policy and public funds here. MPD has a decent budget. It’s priorities that need examining. More important, though, is enforcement of existing MPD policies and procedures. It’s almost better not to have a policy if it’s going to be ignored with impunity by the rank and file.

    • laurelboy2

      August 18, 2011 at 11:30 am

      A quick answer: Yes, I know about Perry and I support him. I voted for McCain and I’ll vote for Perry/Rubio with gay pride.

      • Rick Rosendall

        August 19, 2011 at 10:28 am

        With gay pride? Do you know Perry’s record?

        • Chris

          August 19, 2011 at 12:58 pm

          There’s more to life than Gay Pride. I consider myself a man who is Gay, not a Gay man, I do not let it define me. Perhaps that is why I have the respect of my family, friends and co-workers. I am also successful, both socially and financially, and lead a very satisfying and fullfilling life. I have had more than one person I have come in contact “soften” their views of the “alternative lifestyle” after coming into contact with it through their relationship with me.

          • laurelboy2

            August 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm

            Me, too, Chris. The constant activism and in-your-face approach of the majority of the gay community is tired and reckless. Many more bridges are made one brick at a time than the repetitive protesting in all its forms. All the latter does is further alienate us fromt he mainstream.

        • laurelboy2

          August 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm

          His record is very admirable. My “gayness” is only a minor attribute of myself that impacts my vote.

  5. brian

    August 18, 2011 at 1:04 am

    Rick, you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the way police departments operate. PDs are top-down, not bottom-up organizations.

    The tail does not wag the dog. All signals, for good or ill, are sent from the dog’s brain. That is the Chief of Police and her A.C. for Patrol Services in this metaphor of ultimate MPD responsibility and chain of command.

    The notion that all Chief Lanier need do is “examine MPD priorities” to stop these repeated seeming screw-ups by the Chief’s underlings is a cover story. And I think you know that.

    It is a CYA diversion on behalf of an embattled police chief whose real-world actions and policies regarding LGBT-related crime and DC’s LGBT community, for the past 4 1/2 years, have resulted in one embarrassing anti-LGBT MPD incident after another. That is the one constant abysmal record in Cathy Lanier’s tenure as police chief– year after year, five summers running, now.

    Right out of the gate, Chief Lanier set out to dismantle Chief Ramsey’s award-winning GLLU unit in 2007 — sending an unmistakeable message from MPD’s head throughout MPD’s rank and file. Peter has accurately summarized above Lanier’s subsequent relentless assault on GLLU (and SLU) — and by implication, the LGBT community GLLU was established to serve and protect.

    Lanier’s repeated dismantling and downgrading of GLLU also sent a relentless message for 4 years+ to MPD’s very rank and file officers some now wish to scapegoat, in lieu of finding an incompetent Chief responsible for more anti-LGBT outrages at MPD.

    I don’t get it. Again, the tail does not wag the dog. Certainly, many more in the LGBT community, after yet another hot summer of Lanier’s excuses, are growing weary of them.

    Promptly restoring GLLU’s core unit to its former strength IS the issue, Rick– not scapegoating MPD’s rank and file officers for very possibly following their chief’s deliberately mixed messages.

    • Rick Rosendall

      August 19, 2011 at 10:38 am

      Brian, when did I say the police operated in a bottom-up way? I wish you would stop putting words in my mouth. I have been strongly critical of Lanier. Peter and I were the ones who put out the alert in 2007 when the Chief was about to decentralize GLLU. We have repeatedly insisted on the need for a fully-staffed core GLLU. Yes, I disagree with you on tactics. But Lanier’s performance at the meeting this week was not a repeat of her past public efforts to discredit activists. As the DCTC meeting summary showed (notwithstanding its skeptical perspective), the meeting was productive. I did not just say, nor do I think, that paradise arrived. I said it was productive. Of course we have a long way to go. Your polemical approach here is not particularly helpful.

      • brian

        August 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm

        Gosh, I’m flattered. But no one can put words in your mouth, Rick! ;-D

        Notwithstanding, we’re all moving in the same direction (even Chris and laurelboy, waaaaay over yonder to our right). More later. I just want the Chief to pause from ROTFL while I get a haircut.

  6. customartist

    August 18, 2011 at 7:28 am

    aurelboy2,

    Stupid.

  7. Keith Jarrell

    August 18, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    These are clearly different times in the District. Lanier should be allowed to manage man power exactly as she sees fit. The GLLU unit previously was in some ways DuPont Circle’s own little police force. Offering very little assistance to the thousands of gay and lesbians that live in many other areas of the city. If you go back and carefully look at the calls for service that each officer took in a normal shift, the under utilized services of both the GLLU officers and their Sgt. were well below the city’s averages. There were times that members of the community needed services and got beepers, and recorded messages. This is something that is never discussed by those proponents of the former model. They only see that rosy picture of Brett Parson showing up handcuffing someone and they running away feeling safe and secure. Well boys and girls it just isn’t that way any more. As demonstrated by one recent incident where a gay man after being assaulted went to the DuPont Circle officers to seek help and was handed a pager number to call. The GLLU officers present didn’t even want to be bothered to help. The divisiveness had to end some day and the need for all of these officers to share the burden was the overwhelming reason that Lanier chose to expand the unit and to train many officers to handle calls from the community. GLLU formally was nearly a one man band with Brett Parson. He was both abused and used by the community that was inappropriate for any officer in the MPD. He’s a good guy but just couldn’t say no and thus he was constantly absorbed into situations requiring his time and energy. I think it is time that the members of the Gay and Lesbian community grow up and be citizens, participate in the city, not single themselves out and expect special treatment. Expect that when you have an emergency and call 911, to get a police officer that both treats you professionally, and within the merits of the needs at the moment. If for some reason there are reasons to think it may be a hae crime then expect it to be treated as such. Allow MPD to continue to serve the entire population of the city, fairly, equally, and professionally. It’s not just about your preferences, it’s about all of us being safe and being treated fairly.

    • laurelboy2

      August 18, 2011 at 10:17 pm

      Nice. I find nothing with which to quarrel.

    • Rick Rosendall

      August 19, 2011 at 10:53 am

      Keith, I have to agree with Brian here. Your characterization of the history of the core group of GLLU is at odds with input I have received from a wide spectrum of GLBT citizens. Incidentally, I don’t know anyone who ever thought GLLU should serve only or primarily Dupont Circle. The location of its HQ is irrelevant to its mission, which from its founding in 2000 had an explicit citywide scope. Chief Lanier has pretended that activists who criticized her wanted GLLU to focus only on one northwest neighborhood, which she knows is false. But we got a meeting with her and several of her top staff, and we used it. Notwithstanding our continuing differences with her (e.g., I agree with DCTC that the Prostitution Free Zones are Trans Profiling Zones), she continues to be Chief and we need to work with her if she is prepared to work with us. Continued advocacy and aggressive oversight are also needed. But I also believe in giving credit where due. Merely throwing brickbats is unproductive. Unfortunately, some insist on treating “giving credit where due” as if it were abject surrender. No. We have to do the best we can to engage the mechanisms of power. That doesn’t preclude other activities.

  8. brian

    August 18, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Keith, aside from your lies and cheap shots regarding GLLU’s Dupont office (stripped of GLLU officers by Cathy Lanier, BTW), it is good to have confirmed what DC’s chief of police really thinks of the LGBT community and GLLU.

    Thanks. I do hope you enjoy that MPD awards dog and pony show. BTW, are you really running for Council again? That’s a hoot!

  9. Ruby corado

    August 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    First and foremost, thank you Peter for writing about what’s really going on in this city with mpd and the Lgbt community. We must continue informing the Community on what’s really happening with out sugar coating it.
    I wish that Rick stopped quoting DCTC in his posts online because he is not on the same page that we are. We are not the pals he wants to make people believe we are.

    I hope we continue to to address this issue with mpd in the media.

  10. Peter Rosenstein

    August 20, 2011 at 9:14 am

    So we finally know that Laurelboy2 – who is afraid to give his name and likes to write anonymously -is a gay Republican who likes Perry’s record. That clearly explains some of his previous posts on this site. Perry is a former Democrat who voted for the biggest tax increase in Texas history. He then became a Repbulican who believes among other things that people have no impact on climate change (even while Texas industry includes some of the biggest wind energy production supported by the federal government), that creationism is fact and must be taught in schools, that gays and lesbians should have no right to marriage, to any benefits or to equal employment opportunity. I am thankful that most of my Republican friends think Perry is what one recent Republican official who served in both the Reagan and Bush administrations called him “An Idiot”.

    But I think that the revelations that Laurelboy2 is making about himself put all his comments into perspective and will allow people to decide they aren’t worth reading. Maybe one day he will find the guts to use his own name as he says he lives an openly gay life. Maybe entertainment for some other Perry supporters will be to look on Perry’s website for Laurelboy2 and see the annonymous comments he makes there.

    • laurelboy2

      August 20, 2011 at 11:31 am

      Sounds like dear Pete is obsessed with Laurelboy2. Awkward. Weird. Have you taken your anti-anxiety and anger management meds today, Sir Peter?

  11. Adrian Salsgiver

    August 20, 2011 at 11:50 am

    As a young teenage member of the John Birch Society in the early 1970s, I was taught to “support your local police” and that the police were America’s foremost guardians of freedom”. It was shortly before I encountered my local police and found out that my local police were sick, sadistic, bloodthirsty gay-bashing killers* who brutally beat, strip naked, abuse, and torture innocent children – cover it up and get away with it.
    I know because they did it to me.
    *I have to say killers instead of murderers because it is never murder when a government authority kills an innocent child or citizen. It is always death while in custody, death after a scuffle, a tragedy, poor training, or some other such nonsense, but never murder.
    Nowadays, as a Liberty Activist, I like to joke about being on the list of people who soon must be murdered by government authorities in order to keep their lies and cover-ups going.
    What is not funny is that without the GLLU I have no protection from the next rounds of criminal violence which may be perpetrated upon me, whether it be from a government authority, government agency such as CSOSA, (Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency), from a local conman, or a random attack, such as what happened to Jimmy LaSalvia. GOProud’s executive director said an unidentified youth punched him in the chest. If this happened to me and I called the police, they may have showed up and asked me what I did to provoke the attack. I could have been arrested and charged with several crimes including, child battery, simple assault or even attempted murder – for which I could be given a life sentence.
    In the testimony of A.J. Singletary, President of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), to the DC City Council, Committee of the Judiciary, on July 6, 2011 entitled “Hate Crimes in the District of Columbia and Police Response to Reports of Hate Crimes” GLOV suggests, among other things, that MPD: Publicly state that individuals can request and receive assistance from a GLLU affiliate when reporting incidents and crimes to MPD; and Restore the central GLLU to its previous staffing levels and put a dedicated
    manager in charge.
    This is most important as it would not be a safe or good idea for me to just call 911 if I need police assistance.
    In the Washington Blade article; ‘GOProud head attacked in anti-gay assault’ Sgt. Carlos Mejia said the GLLU and the police department have distributed literature and public notices advising citizens to contact the unit on its new 24-hour smart phone number of 202-506-0714. This is extremely good news. I hope I will not need to call it, but it is in my cell phone now.

  12. brian

    August 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    **
    *Rick Rosendall August 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm*
    There is certainly a long list of concerns regarding MPD & the LGBT community. I thought the meeting that Lanier and other top MPD officials held with 13 LGBT activists on August 16 was constructive… Brian, I agree that GLLU should be fully staffed and functioning; but it is not appropriate for the Council to micromanage MPD to the extent of specifying the size of individual units, nor is there any likelihood they would do this. We must hold the Chief accountable, work with her as best we can, and also convey our concerns to Mayor Gray.
    **
    Rick, upon review, I think “constructive” and “productive” are adequate, accurate soundbites to describe activists’ meeting with the Chief.
    But there is absolutely NO REASON emergency legislation by the Council to mandate an orderly upgrade of GLLU’s core unit can’t happen. All over America, in city councils, county councils, town councils, big and small, police chiefs, police commissioners and sheriffs are ORDERED by those councils to make immediate changes in local police staffing (and it can go either way, up or down) based upon new crime conditions or important other factors.  
      It happened to the police chief in our family a number of times during his tenure– after collaborative consultation with his councils and mayors. Sometimes, he disagreed, but he saluted his mayor and council and implemented the required changes, respecting it was part of a fully legitimate political process, usually required to respond to changing circumstances.  
      That’s what we have here… Both a crisis in LGBT public confidence in MPD’s ability to serve and protect DC’s LGBT residents and visitors, as well as increasing de facto anti-LGBT INSTITUTIONAL DISCRIMINATION at MPD brought about, IMO, by Chief Lanier’s reckless slashing of GLLU’s core unit– IN HALF!
      It is laughable that Lanier solemnly promised your group “to look into” why GLLU officers are less visible on the streets and in locales where LGBT people gather. She knows darn well why that’s so. It’s because that is the way SHE wanted it. Likewise, with less GLLU officers available, she knew detectives and first responders would likely not be calling GLLU for help.  
      Do you seriously think police chiefs operate in some kind of ignorant vacuum? I can tell you from my experience with Lanier, she keeps her ears very close to the pavement, close to her commands, and even close to her Citizens Advisory Councils. The notion that she was unaware of the consequences of slashing GLLU’s core is preposterous. Likewise, do you think her replacement of a Captain at SLU with a civilian was just another Chief’s “rookie mistake”??? Lots of us smelled that coffee long ago.  
    The LGBT community should thank its stars that Jim Graham is proactively pushing on this. It was terrific he showed up at the meeting and pushed Lanier directly again.  
      Jim Graham gets this — in his gut! A growing number of casual LGBT observers of this increasing violent crime wave directed at DC’s LGBT people get it, too. Lanier created this mistrust and fear in the LGBT community by cutting GLLU central — deceptively and stealthily,
    BTW. Peter’s got a good instinct about this, too.
      But I’m sure a lot of us don’t understand why Vincent Gray, Phil Mendelson, others on the Council, and you don’t get it.  
      The public safety of the LGBT community deserves emergency Council action, NOW. The Mayor’s, too. I shouldn’t have to remind you that both Vincent Gray and Phil Mendelson– just a year ago– promised LGBT voters they would restore GLLU’s core to its full former strent (2010 GLAA survey questions 12 and 13, eh?).
    We don’t need any more show hearings of the Judiciary Committee, nor backpedaling by the Mayor, nor Jeff Richardson — nor GLAA… nor more feel-good meetings by the Chief whose incompetence created this community fear and mistrust to begin with.  
      Vincent Gary and Phil Mendelson should seriously fulfill their campaign promises to LGBT voters (and their straight neighbors and friends) who trusted those promises.  
      And GLAA, Rick, should stop making nonsense excuses for their foot-dragging.
    ###

    • laurelboy2

      August 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm

      Brian, chill. You wrote: “…All over America, in city councils, … police chiefs … are ORDERED by those councils to make immediate changes in local police staffing … based upon new crime conditions or important other factors…” What ‘s the urgency in DC? What precipitates “immediate changes in police staffing … based upon new crime conditions or important other factors…?” Cite a continual pattern of egregious crime activities warranting such drastic and immediate changes?

      Hummm. Just as I thought; there are none. Might want to make sure you lock your triple dead bolts on your doors each night and you wear your flak jacket and protective eye wear when walking the streets…

  13. chaz

    August 21, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Not to belittle the needs of the Community, but you do realize Mayor Gray has pretty much fulfilled none of his promises or commitments to any community. As for Lanier, she has ruined MPD. Take the time to talk to any street Officer, and you’ll find morale is worse than it was in the 90s when the Department had a paycut. MPDs attrition rate is higher than anyone wants to admit, and there has been a hiring freeze for the last 2 years. The forty or so Officers they “might” hire in October won’t make up for the 500 that left for other agencies in the last three years. Those 500 were the cream of the crop, not the overweight lazy ones everyone complains about. Its nice to talk about bringing back units like GLUU, but its hard to fill the ranks of a specialized unit when there aren’t enough Officers in roll call to handle basic duties. Lanier’s popularity stems from the fact that she will promise any group anything they want, often at the expense of her Officers and even more often than not ultimately not fulfilled.

  14. brian

    August 22, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Thanks, chaz. I hear that, and don’t disagree obviously. That’s important news and context f/ the ranks, too. Is the high attrition rate due to the hiring freeze and resultant extra work? Failure to keep up pay levels with other area agencies? Or what? This is back door carving across-the-board then? Have any news folks reported that story?

    • chazz

      August 23, 2011 at 9:48 am

      @Brian-the growing attrition rate is due to job dissatisfaction and distrust in management. This incident is a perfect example. All we know is one version of the story; 5 members of the LGBT community were attacked by two males and the police did nothing. While it sounds terrible, we haven’t heard the Officers side of the story, nor have we heard the version from the two attackers. In reality, it could very well turn out that there were seven lazy Officers on their way back from Jumbo Slice, and that they failed to take Police action. If that is the case they have disgraced the Department and deserve to be fired; but that should be determined by a thorough investigation, not by the Chief holding street court based on public opinion. Ultimately, if these Officers are fired, they will get their jobs back because of the Chief’s determining their guilt before the investigation even began. That is why 84% of Officers fired by Chief Lanier have gotten their jobs back( with more in the pipe). Some of those Officers deserved without a doubt deserved to be fired, but she dismissed their due process rights in light of some good publicity, and the District ultimately pays the price( both figuratively and literally, when the crap Officer is reinstated and 5 years of back pay and punitive damages are paid to them). On the flipside of the coin, if these Officers were management, this issue would be swept under the rug and never addressed. You also have things like AHOD. Everyone likes seeing the Officers writing tickets on Friday and Saturday nights, but both an Arbitrator and an Appeals board said they violate the Labor Agreement. They are to be stopped immediately, and back overtime is due to all Officers. That should have been the end of it. Instead, the Chief is dragging on the issue, going so far as to create a wedge between the Officers and the CItizens by emailing listserves and portraying them as a lazy, greedy Union workers that just want the weekends off. That is like General Petraeus going to the Afghani people and declaring that the US Army is a corrupt organization that must be stopped. If your boss in the private sector did something this contemptuous, you would quit. If you read the both the arbitrators and the PERBS decision, it is very clear that she violated the contract, and it had nothing to do with 2 weekends in 2009. If AHODs were really that important, why not renegotiate the contract and comply with the law, instead of disregarding the law? Then you have issues like the Trinidad roadblocks, Sheengate and the Groomes cheating scandal, but at this point I’m beating a dead horse. What it comes down to is that everyday Officers feel that managment that can’t be trusted.

      Any detractors that say that if “if the cops don’t like the job they can quit” need to wake up and realize cops are quiting every day. Inner City police experience is invaluable to Federal agencies like the FBI and DEA, and surrounding agencies like Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Montgomery, USPP, etc. The majority of local agencies are even buying the Officers time from MPD when they come on, so it wont even effect their paychecks or retirement. The young Officers that are fit, have college experience, and like serving their community are going full Lorax and hopping to Agencies that appreciate them.

  15. brian

    August 25, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Thanks, again, chaz. Yours seems to be an excellent detail of the problems at MPD. However, I’m coming to understand that MPD’s problems are not entirely with the Chief.

    The Mayor and the Council (representing we, the people) are largely responsible for MPD budget amounts and resource allocations. How much is the Chief hamstrung by budget priorities made by her civilian commanders? Is the Mayor and the Council demanding more policing productivity/ patrols/ crime deterrence than their MPD budgets reasonably permit? It seems we are, with out much forethought as to systemic consequences, not just cutting into MPD’s muscle, but right down to its bone. That’s an extraordinary problem for any Chief.

    No politician wants to have a conversation with his/her constituents regarding budget allocations among essential, very popular city services during the toughest economic downturn in many decades. But what’s not essential about DC’s public safety? Maybe voters and/or their leaders have to insist upon that conversation.

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McAuliffe YES, Trump NO, for governor of Va.

Youngkin is a stand-in for disgraced former president

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Terry McAuliffe, Equality Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Vote Terry McAuliffe for governor of Virginia because he will be a great governor. Reality is the alternative is Donald Trump who may be calling himself Glenn Youngkin in Virginia, but don’t be fooled, Youngkin is only a stand-in for Trump.

Virginians know and respect McAuliffe. He was a successful governor in his first term and is a decent and honorable man. Had Virginia law allowed him to run for a second consecutive term he would have won easily. He has a stellar record of moving the state forward on equal justice and equal opportunity, civil rights, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights. 

The first executive order McAuliffe issued upon taking office in 2014 banned anti-LGBTQ discrimination against state employees. He vetoed religious freedom bills, created Virginia’s LGBTQ tourism board, and became the first Virginia governor to declare June as Pride month. He was the first governor of a southern state to officiate a same-sex wedding.

He recently said, “As governor, I will fight my heart out to make Virginia the most open, welcoming and inclusive state in the nation, and break down the disparities that LGBTQ communities, and particularly communities of color, face in education, health care, the economy and more. Together, we’ll move Virginia forward into a better, brighter future for all.”

When it comes to women’s rights McAuliffe staved off attacks by extreme Republicans who controlled the Virginia Legislature during his tenure. He fought for women’s health care rights and fought to keep open every women’s health clinic in the state. He vetoed legislation that would have harmed women, including a bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood in Virginia. 

On civil rights he said one of his proudest accomplishments was being able to reverse a racist Jim Crow law disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Virginians. McAuliffe restored the right to vote to more than 200,000 Virginians with felony convictions allowing them to fully participate in democracy after serving their time.

He was good for business and during his term as governor had a record of bringing more than 200,000 good paying jobs to the state and oversaw a lowered unemployment rate and an increase in personal income of over 13 percent. McAuliffe understands early investments in the state’s infrastructure helps the state to be a national leader in clean energy. 

These and so many other positive reasons are why Virginians should vote for Terry McAuliffe. 

But there are also many reasons to vote against Trump stand-in, Glenn ‘Trump’ Youngkin. The first is Trump saying, “he has my complete and total endorsement!” 

Youngkin continues to spread the Trump lie by still fighting the 2020 election and calling for an audit of Virginia election machines. He regularly speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He got caught on tape behind closed doors telling donors he won’t “go squishy” on banning abortion and defunding Planned Parenthood. He added, “As a campaign topic, sadly, that in fact won’t win my independent votes that I have to get.” Then he is still casting doubts on the COVID vaccine. He claims he is telling people to get vaccinated against COVID and then is recorded telling others it is their choice. He is against mandating vaccines for teachers and healthcare workers. His ads feature a teacher, who is a Trumper, endorsing his education program (a disaster) but who is opposed to mandating vaccines for teachers. They feature healthcare workers endorsing him who are against a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.  Youngkin is trying to buy the Virginia election saying he would raise $75 million but most from his own vast fortune, actually trying to buy it for Trump. 

Virginia Democrats and right-thinking independents and Republicans must come out in large numbers to repudiate Donald Trump once-and-for-all by casting their votes for Terry McAuliffe. 

Let’s hope Trump voters in Virginia stay home this year. But McAuliffe can’t count on that to win. It will take Democrats in huge numbers to give McAuliffe the same big win Joe Biden had over Trump in Virginia in 2020. If that happens Democrats will also keep the House of Delegates and win the other statewide races. 

Remember, when you vote for McAuliffe you vote for the man named “Public Official of the Year” by Governing magazine in his last term. Virginians should give him a well-deserved second term.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Blogging my first overseas vacation since COVID

Chronicling life aboard Celebrity APEX

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I will be blogging a number of times during my two-week transatlantic cruise and sharing my thoughts and experiences. 

The first thing I found is boarding during a pandemic is a little different. People were given specific boarding times yet most arrived at the port when it was convenient for them as many had early check-out times from their hotel or Airbnb in Barcelona. Celebrity didn’t turn anyone away. There was no Wi-fi at the entrance to the terminal so things got a little complicated as many had the information needed on their iPhone Celebrity app. It worked out and when you got inside to the counter they shared a Wi-fi connection. 

I knew in advance from a Facebook connection, some childhood friends whom I hadn’t seen in 21 years were going to be onboard. We ended up arriving at the terminal at the same time and caught up for the next hour and a half as we progressed through the boarding process. We all had to take a Covid test and only those with negative results could board. Of the approximately 1,300 people boarding, less than half the possible number for a full ship, I didn’t hear of anyone getting a positive result. 

When my negative result came back I was allowed to board and went to find my stateroom on deck 11. The key was at the door with all my information on it. Celebrity was doing everything to limit crew-to-passenger contact. We were asked to keep masks on in all indoor spaces except when eating or drinking, which on a cruise is often, and the crew are all wearing masks. Luggage was delivered to the door. 

Shortly after entering my beautiful stateroom there was a knock at the door and my stateroom attendant, Lenie, had come to introduce herself. She didn’t come in but explained how I could reach her anytime and for safety she would only come into the room when I was out. We chatted for a few minutes and I found out she was from the Philippines, had three children, and had worked for Celebrity for 20 years. She was both charming and efficient. 

I then took a walk around the ship and was duly impressed. It is beautiful. I walked through the huge buffet where people were happily eating lunch and saw instead of serving yourself there were servers behind each station filling people’s plates. All passengers had on their masks when getting food, as did the crew serving them. It made for a very safe feeling. 

Instead of a group muster each passenger was asked to go to their assigned muster station where you were met by staff who explained emergency procedures. You also had to look at a video on the Celebrity app and were then logged in and confirmed you had done so. All efficiently and safely done. 

Then I headed to the sail-away party my travel agent, and friends, Scott Moster and his husband Dustin, were hosting in the Iconic suite. The suite has everything from a peloton cycle to a hot tub for eight. It is incredible. I had the chance to catch up with old friends I had sailed with before the pandemic. Then it was a quick tour of the spa and gym open twenty-four hours a day. A way to assuage guilt over all the food and drink. Then back to the stateroom to finish unpacking and change for dinner with good friends in one of the specialty restaurants, EDEN. That meant long pants and a shirt with a collar. That’s as formal as required on this cruise. 

The food was superb and we got to meet the chef, Nicholas. An interesting guy who I will interview during the cruise. The menu was a combination of fresh fish, lobster, to filet mignon, all interestingly prepared. 

After dinner it was a stop at the Martini bar where a large group of LGBTQ friends had gathered along with some who would become friends. I was surprised when a guy came over and gave me a hug. I didn’t recognize him with his mask on but turned out he was another friend from my past I hadn’t seen in years. It is clearly a small world and the gay world seems even smaller. 

Finally headed to my stateroom around midnight, where turndown service had been done, to get some sleep and prepare for day two, and our first stop, Alicante.  

Day two and three on the Celebrity APEX

Time flies when on a cruise; maybe it’s the endless food and drink. All passengers received a letter in their room telling us we would need to report for a Covid test on day 5 the first at-sea day before we get to the Canary Islands. I pre-scheduled mine just before what I planned as my first hour at the gym. I expect to go to the gym on all sea days and there will be eight of those.

Each morning I have had coffee, a bagel and orange juice delivered to the stateroom.  I always miss that knock on the door each morning when I am home but then I would miss my daily coffee at Java House so I guess it’s OK. 

On day two we stopped at our first port, Alicante, on Spain’s Costa Blanca. I was truly surprised at how beautiful the city is. I joined friends for what turned out to be a three and a half hour walk as we were allowed off the ship on our own without booking a tour. We visited churches and the main market in town. We strolled along the beach and the harbor with great walking and bicycle paths. Alicante is a wonderful mix of old-world charm and modern amenities. One friend ventured up to the castle, Castillo de Santa Barbara, but since the elevator (the easy way up) wasn’t working and it’s a very long, steep climb up the mountain I passed. We arrived back at the ship around 1 p.m. and headed to the Mast bar on deck 14 for burgers and fries. Then some time back in the stateroom before heading to the martini bar for a drink and then to the beautiful APEX theater to see the Shamrock Tenors, four Irish performers who are not only talented but cute to boot. 

We decided to try one of the regular restaurants, those not needing reservations and chose Normandy. The food was good and I had shrimp cocktail, rigatoni, and cherries jubilee for dessert. 

After dinner it was up to the Rooftop Garden for ‘Silent Disco’. That is where you get a set of headphones with a few channels of disco music, and you dance to the music only you can hear. It’s really fun but by 11:30 my knees gave out and it was off to bed. 

Day three dawned nice and sunny and we were docked in Cartagena, located in the autonomous of the region of Murcia. I had an 8:45 excursion and again had breakfast delivered to the room. We were instructed to head to the theater to meet the tour group and sign in for our ‘Journey to Murcia’. Murcia is a city in south-eastern Spain, the capital and most populous city of the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia, and the seventh largest city in the country, with a population of 447,182. It is about a forty-minute drive from the port. It is a fascinating city with an incredible history from the Romans to and Moorish influence. There is a beautiful cathedral, isn’t there one in every Spanish city? This being a national holiday in Spain most of the shops were closed saving some on the tour a lot of money. We strolled around the city with our guide giving us a running commentary on its history for about an hour and a half. She was a little hard to understand because not only did she have a heavy accent but she spoke really fast. But it was still fun and we did learn a lot. We made a second stop outside the city at another church where a wedding was being officiated. The bride was beautiful. Then we headed back to the ship for an early departure. Our tour was the last onboard and we sailed not more than thirty minutes after we got there. 

Then it was off to the captain’s reception. I had the chance to chat a few moments with the Captain Panagiotis Skylogiannis, who is as charming as are most Greek men. We also met the rest of the senior crew who run the ship. Many said they would be more than happy to sit and get a cup of coffee with me during our at-sea days so I can interview and write about them.

Then it was back to my stateroom again to prepare for another tough night of food and drinking. We went to see Andrew Derbyshire in the theater for the 7:30 show and then to dinner at Cyprus.   After dinner Celebrity hosted the first LGBTQ+ event of the cruise at the EDEN bar. A large crowd showed up, not all gay but they all knew where the fun people would be. The entertainers all showed up there as including the Shamrock Tenors, four talented Irish guys and Andrew Derbyshire, a British actor and singer. We chatted and I will meet him for coffee to do a column on him. 

Then about midnight it was back to the stateroom for what some of my friends on board called an early night. Morning would have us docking in Cadiz and we had a private tour planned for over 20 of the people who had booked the trip with Scott Moster, travel agent extraordinaire, taking us to the city of Seville.  

Days four and five on the Celebrity APEX

Day four dawned warm and partially sunny as we docked in the port of Cadiz. This was the day we had our private tour of Sevilla planned. The itinerary had been set by two of my friends, Rob Robertson and his husband Carlos Taylor. Carlos lived for a time in Sevilla as a child and has a big family still here. Celebrity, by agreement with our travel agent Scott Moster, made the planned itinerary a formally sponsored tour. 

At 8:45 our group of mostly gay and lesbian travelers left the ship for the hour and forty-five-minute bus ride to Sevilla. Our guide described the city and gave us its history as we traveled to our destination. Scott also had the foresight  to bring along a few bottles of champagne and orange juice and we were treated to mimosas along the way. 

Once in Sevilla were met by a second guide and given electronic devices and earphones so we could follow along as we took a two hour walk to see the sights which included the incredible Plaza de España in the Parque de María Luisa. It was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is a landmark example of Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Baroque Revival, Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival styles of Spanish architecture. Plaza de España has been used as a backdrop in a number of films including Starwars. It is very impressive. 

From there we headed to the Royal Palace and its beautiful gardens and then it was off to the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, better known as, Seville Cathedral. It was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a world heritage site along with the adjoining Alcazar complex. It is the fourth largest church in the world as well as the largest Gothic church and is particularly ornate with over forty-five individual chapels and two huge organs. Christopher Columbus and his son Diego are buried in the cathedral. 

Because we spent so much time at these sites we were very late for lunch at the restaurant Carlos had chosen; one owned by friends of his family. They welcomed us with charcuterie and cheese plates, wine, beer and sangria. However, the rest of lunch ended up as takeout as we were really late and our ship was scheduled to leave port at 4:45 and we had been told to be on board no later than 4:30. We double-timed it back to our bus and headed for the port. All went well until we hit a traffic jam and sat for about fifteen minutes. It was increasingly clear we wouldn’t be on-time. Our guide was getting nervous and he called the ship and someone erroneously told him they would sail without us. 

Meanwhile our trusty travel agent Scott was on the phone with his Celebrity contact who confirmed as this was an official tour they couldn’t leave without us. Once again we were the last people up the gangway and about five minutes after the last person was onboard the engines started up. The Captain had made an announcement to all the reason they may be leaving late was us. After that excitement it was a great evening with dinner at Cyprus and then a show. The hard life onboard ship continued.

Day five was our first sea-day. No tours and no rushing. For me it was early morning writing and coffee delivered to the room. Then my required covid test and off to the gym. The half hour on the Lifecyle was easy because I was looking out at the sea. The gym isn’t large and because of covid you could only use every other machine. But with only half the number of passengers on board that worked. The gym is open twenty-four hours a day. After my workout I met friends at the buffet for a lite lunch because of course it was crucial to gain back the few calories I may have lost working out. Then it was a lazy day, the kind I love when cruising. I had arranged coffee with Andrew Derbyshire, one of the talented entertainers onboard, to interview him for a column I will write. He is a really nice guy who will be getting off the ship in the Canary Islands; not being an American citizen, he wouldn’t be allowed into the US even though fully vaccinated until November 8th and we dock on October 24th. 

Evening began with a Celebrity scheduled  LGBTQ+ happy hour and then a nice dinner at the Rooftop Garden, another of the specialty restaurants. Then on to The Club, one of the entertainment venues, to hear Andrew sing. He had the whole room up and dancing, even me.  All-in-all another great day onboard Celebrity APEX.

Day Six begins my sea-days on the Celebrity APEX

I woke on day six to a hazy sky and our ship heading to dock in Tenerife. I had been there before and was sad that we were not going to be allowed to head out on our own. There were a number of tours scheduled but I decided to stay on the ship. It was a wonderful lazy day of writing, the gym, and just finding a nice place to sit and read. First though I would have a long lunch with Cheryl and Jeff in the Café, which is the buffet. They are my childhood friends who are onboard. We exchanged old pictures from our iPhones and talked about people we grew up with.  

The EDGE series of Celebrity ships, which includes the EDGE, the APEX which I am on, and the upcoming BEYOND scheduled to make its inaugural sail next April, have what is called the Magic Carpet. It is a lounge that can be moved up and down on the side of the ship. On day six it was on deck 14 and it was the perfect place to sit and read. This would be my life for the next seven days at sea. It is the part of the cruise I like the best.

Scott and Dustin invited us all to a sail-away party in their suite at 4:30 and we watched as our ship sailed out of Tenerife for the seven-day crossing to Ft. Lauderdale. Lazy days and fun nights ahead for all of us. On this day Celebrity had scheduled two LGBTQ+ events, one a meet and greet at 6 pm and a second LGBTQ+ PRIDE event at 10:30. Between the two there was a show in the Theater, UPTOWN, three talented young men dancing and singing to Motown and other music from groups who had sung in the famous New York,  Apollo theater. Then dinner at the Steak House, another specialty restaurant. 

At the evening LGBTQ+ event we met some of the new cast members of the shows replacing those who had to leave the ship in Tenerife.  I ran into another person on the ship I first met years ago in DC, Tareq Salahi, known at the time as part of the couple who crashed a White House dinner. His first wife was on the very short-lived series ‘The Housewives of Washington, DC. 

On day seven I woke up to a hazy day at sea, calm waters which we can only hope will be replicated for our whole Atlantic crossing. I started my day going to a talk given by Melinda Bates, who had written a book on the Clinton Administration where she served eight years in the visitor’s office of the White House. I had met her on a previous cruise and had lunch with her so really went just to say hello.  Then it was going to be what I looked forward to; gym, writing, reading, eating and drinking, and just being lazy in luxurious surroundings with fun people. What more can anyone ask for.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ clouds Powell’s legacy

A final act of redemption

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Former Secretary of State Colin Powell (Photo by Susan Montgomery via Bigstock)

The legacy of General Colin Powell is complicated for those in the LGBTQ community. On the one hand, we celebrate that Powell was the first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. On the other, he is also the person who disobeyed the strategic choice of his Commander in Chief, Bill Clinton, on gays in the military. 

Powell stood on the steps of the Pentagon reporting how many calls had been received opposing lifting the ban. He testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the service of openly gay troops would harm unit cohesion. He argued that race was a “benign characteristic” and being gay was not. Congress codified into statute what had been a regulatory ban on gays in the military, making the law that much harder to change. Almost 14,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual service members were dismissed under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a rate of two-four service members every day. Some were subjects of witch hunts. Others faced criminal charges. Many endured harassment, assault and threats. Private First Class Barry Winchell was murdered.

Michelle Benecke and I knew when we founded Servicemembers Legal Defense Network that for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to be repealed, we would have to either win the support or neutralize the opposition of Powell, one of the previously undisclosed strategies described in my new book, “Mission Possible.” Michelle and I first met him at the Arlington, Va., headquarters of America’s Promise. We offered to brief him on the ban’s implementation as he was being asked on the Sunday shows about the law’s efficacy. He agreed to see us.

The question was whether we could find common ground on which to build a new consensus. My theory was that Powell genuinely believed that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a better policy than the one before it. After all, he had testified before the Senate, “We will not ask, we will not witch-hunt, we will not seek to learn orientation.” 

“General Powell,” I said, “we have received nearly a thousand calls from service members who have been impacted by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We have documented that most are being asked point blank about their sexual orientation in contravention of ‘Don’t Ask.’” 

“That’s not supposed to happen,” he said.

That was our first conversation. We might have been able to better enforce some of the meager gains under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if we had been able to prevail upon Powell to help us, but he wasn’t ready. 

In 2003, he told Teen Ink magazine that while discrimination is wrong, “I think it’s a different matter with respect to the military, because you’re essentially told who you’re going to live with, who you’re going to sleep next to.”

Four years later, he called me, prompted by an opinion essay in The New York Times that I had sent him. “Second Thoughts on Gays in the Military”—written by retired Army General John Shalikashvili, Powell’s successor as chairman of the Joint Chiefs—called for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Powell and I spoke for 45 minutes. “I agree with General Shalikashvili that America has changed and is ready for gays to serve openly,” he said. My heart leapt. “I am not convinced, however, that military commanders are ready for that change.” My heart sunk.

It was clear to me, though, that he was moving in the right direction.  I put it on the line. “Sir, you will be a critical voice on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ when it comes up for debate again. I need you to support repeal if we are going to win. Do you know that?”

“Yes,” he said.

Finally, on Feb. 5, 2010, 10 months before final repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and days after Admiral Mike Mullen had testified before the Senate that he supported repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Powell released a statement. “If the chiefs and commanders are comfortable with moving to change the policy, then I support it. Attitudes and circumstances have changed. Society is reflected in the military. It’s where we get our soldiers from.” The stage was set for final repeal.

We too often look for heroes and villains when the record can be complicated. Powell deserves opprobrium for defying Clinton, rallying opposition, and allowing 60,000 troops under his command to suffer the indignity of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He deserves credit, though, for changing his mind. I admired his willingness to speak with me over nearly two decades. I find that the best leaders engage in a lifelong process of learning and challenging assumptions. Powell will receive deserved accolades for his service to our nation, but for us, his legacy includes a profound betrayal with a final act of redemption.

C. Dixon Osburn is author of ‘Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’’

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