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.