September 5, 2011 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Police chief meets with LGBT activists for third time in month

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier disclosed in an Aug. 31 meeting with LGBT activists that she has reinstated a popular police captain as head of the department’s Special Liaison Division, which oversees the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU).

Lanier’s action comes four months after she drew criticism from activists and rank and file officers for replacing Capt. Edward Delgado as head of the liaison division with a civilian police official who had little experience in crime-fighting activity.

The chief’s appointment in May of Enrique Rivera, who specialized in internal administrative and policy matters, as Delgado’s replacement was viewed by some department insiders as a signal that she was diminishing the influence of the liaison units, including the GLLU. Lanier denied those claims, saying Rivera would provide strong leadership to the division.

Her announcement this week that Rivera was retiring from the department and Delgado would return to head the SLD was warmly received at her meeting Wednesday with representatives of several local LGBT organizations, according to gay activist Peter Rosenstein, who attended the meeting.

The meeting marked the third time Lanier has met with representatives of the LGBT community since Aug. 4, when she met with officials of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV). That meeting followed a widely publicized incident in which D.C. police officers refused to take a report of an assault against five lesbians in the city’s Columbia Heights neighborhood by two men who shouted anti-gay names at the women.

Lanier said the conduct of the officers was under investigation and told GLOV officials the officers could be fired depending on the findings of the investigation.

The meeting on Wednesday came less than a week after an off-duty D.C. police officer was arrested for firing a handgun at three transgender women and two male friends who were sitting in a car at First and Pierce streets, N.W. One month earlier, a transgender woman was shot to death in Northeast D.C., with activists expressing concern that police took too long to alert the LGBT community about the incident.

“I genuinely believe Chief Lanier and all of her senior leadership team are sensitive to and concerned about problems with the LGBT community,” said Aisha Moody-Mills, a D.C. lesbian activist who attended Wednesday’s meeting.

“But I’m still extremely concerned that their values are not trickling down to the patrol officers on the street,” Moody-Mills said. “There’s a disconnect there, and I’m not sure how the chief will address this.”

Rosenstein said he was optimistic that Lanier was taking steps to address a number police related issues that have troubled the LGBT community over the past few years.

Police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said her office was preparing a comment on Wednesday’s meeting and Lanier’s assessment of how it went.

Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor Vincent Gray’s Office of GLBT Affairs, who organized Wednesday’s meeting with Lanier at Gray’s request, said he, too, was optimistic over Lanier’s efforts to address the LGBT-police related issues troubling the community.

“This was an opportunity to bring other people into the discussion with the chief,” said Richardson.

Rosenstein said Lanier, among other things, told those attending the meeting she would ensure that officers list on police crime reporting forms that a crime is a hate crime whenever the victim indicates he or she was a target of hate violence. The appropriate police investigator would then make a final determination of whether the incident is a hate crime, Rosenstein reported Lanier as saying.

He said she also promised to try to boost the number of full-time officers assigned to the GLLU but could not commit to that due to a department wide reduction of police personnel related to budget reductions. According to Rosenstein, the chief also promised to look into the possibility of putting in place an internal department mediation process to facilitatate complaints by citizens that officers mistreated members of the LGBT community. Under an existing labor agreement with the police union, such a change couldn’t be made without the union’s approval, Lanier 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

5 Comments
  • Ok, so everyone’s who has been vilifying Lanier for the last month or so, now starts a new day and a brand new love-fest with Lanier, right? Now that everyone’s happy, let’s put this baby to bed.

  • MPD did not get into this situation overnight, and no one should think it will get out of it overnight. But reasonably collaborative, rapid adaptivity to root problem-solving is a very good quality in any chief of police.

    It is not the community meetings that matter. It is the prompt implementation of needed change at MPD, resulting from those meetings, that matters.

    These are positive developments, to be sure. However, LGBT activists should remain constantly vigilant and reserve judgment until street-level community policing is also unmistakably re-established.

    Only a restored, trusted and respected GLLU core unit will regain the confidence of the LGBT public, as well as that of MPD’s rank and file officers. The Mayor and Council should work diligently to provide MPD the funds to make that happen ASAP.

    Meanwhile, welcome back to special liaison community policing, Captain Delgado! Many of us are delighted to see you back at the helm of MPD’s much-needed Special Liaison Division.

  • Regarding Peter Rosenstein’s comment in the final paragraph: a labor agreement does indeed tie Chief Lanier’s hands. However, there is already a mechanism in place for citizen complaints of police abuse. It is the independent Office of Police Complaints, whose creation was the result of efforts by a coalition more than a decade ago including GLAA, ACLU, NAACP, and the National Black Police Association. OPC’s website is at http://occr.dc.gov/occr/site/default.asp

  • Excellent points of information and local history, Rick. GLAA has been at this a very long time.

    And it should underscore for all public safety LGBT residents, community activists and stakeholders what an ongoing, REGULAR effort these interactions with MPD (and GLLU) should be. This is the essence of good community policing.

    If GLLU’s core unit were brought to full strength and anti-TBGL crimes dwindles to nothing tomorrow, the critical mission for MPD and LGBT citizens alike, would still be that of maintaining public safety and retention of a high level of proactive crime prevention.

    LGBT community policing, with a credible, trustworthy police/community partnership should be thought of as a never-ending civic responsibility– especially in urban America.

  • I require 24/7 GLLU service and protection. My adversaries are very sick, sadistic, bloodthirsty and evil. I have done nothing wrong, they are lying.

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