The supervisor of the D.C. police department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit has filed an internal police complaint accusing the captain in charge of the unit with repeatedly addressing a gay male officer assigned to the GLLU by using a female version of his name.
According to sources familiar with the development, who spoke on condition of anonymity, GLLU Sgt. Matthew Mahl filed the complaint against Capt. Edward Delgado with the department’s Internal Affairs Division on behalf of GLLU Officer Justin Markiewicz.
The sources say the complaint accuses Delgado of addressing Markiewicz as “Justine” repeatedly in face-to-face conversations and in at least four separate emails, copies of which have been obtained by the Washington Blade.
Among the recipients of one of the emails in which Delgado addressed Markiewicz as “Justine,” which was transmitted on Jan. 13, 2012, were Deputy D.C. Police Chief Diane Groomes and former GLLU supervisor Sgt. Carlos Mejia.
Mahl and Markiewicz, when contacted this week by the Blade, declined to comment, saying they are required to refer all media inquiries to the department’s public information office.
Gwendolyn Crump, director of the Public Information Office, said she too was not authorized to comment on the matter.
“This is a personnel matter that is being investigated by the MPD’s Internal Affairs Division,” she said in an email. “I cannot comment further at this time.”
The sources said Mahl filed the complaint with Internal Affairs on July 29 after Markiewicz confided in him that he was troubled and under stress over Delgado’s alleged repeated references to him using a female name. Markiewicz reportedly considered Delgado’s action derogatory, demeaning and a form of harassment based on his sexual orientation, the sources said.
Mahl reportedly felt duty bound to file the complaint, which requires Internal Affairs to open an investigation, based on a longstanding MPD policy that requires both police officials and rank-and-file officers to report all instances of possible “improper conduct” committed by a member of the police force within two hours of learning about such conduct, one of the sources said.
Delgado serves as commander of the Special Liaison Division, which oversees the GLLU and three other police liaison units – the Latino Liaison Unit, the Asian and Pacific Islander Liaison Unit and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit.
In addition to the Jan. 13, 2012 email, the complaint filed by Mahl includes copies of emails dated Sept. 20, 2012; June 6, 2014; and July 7, 2014, according to the sources. In each of those emails Delgado refers to Markiewicz as “Justine.”
The July 7, 2014 email has a subject heading that states, “RE: Sixth District Listserv Message PROSTITUTION, DISORDERLY CONDUCT, AND PUBLIC NUISANCES ON EASTERN AVE, NE. It goes on to state, “Flag for follow up” and adds, “Justine…please ensure that we stay on top of this.”
The June 6 email message by Delgado was a response to an email from Markiewicz to him with the subject heading, “Pride photo.” A photo embedded in the email has a caption saying, “Group photo from La Fiesta Latino Dance Party. This has been a very successful pride thus far!”
Delgado’s response states, “Thanks Justine.”
Paul Tupper, chair of the local group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), which works with the GLLU and MPD officials to help curtail anti-LGBT violence, including hate crimes, said he has no direct knowledge about the complaint filed against Delgado.
“Although GLOV is not familiar with the particulars of this complaint it serves as a reminder that if any members of the LGBT community have concerns about a member of the MPD force, they should report it, and that includes those within the MPD,” Tupper told the Blade.
Chris Farris, a former GLOV co-chair, said he has had dealings with Delgado over a period of several years and the nature of the complaint filed against him came as a surprise.
“I’ve always found him to be a pretty open and approachable person,” Farris said. “I’ve never had any reason to believe he was homophobic. But I will also tell you that Justin is a great person. He’s a very valuable asset to the GLLU,” said Farris, who added, “And so I would also have no reason to believe that he wouldn’t be telling the truth.”
Farris called on the department to conduct a “thorough investigation” into the complaint and to report its findings to the public.
Two other LGBT activists who have had dealings with Delgado, and who spoke on condition that they are not identified, shared Farris’s assessment, saying they were caught by surprise over the complaint.
But the sources familiar with the complaint say that Delgado’s persistent references to Markiewicz as “Justine” could be viewed as a form of workplace harassment that has the potential of harming the overall effectiveness of the GLLU.
They said the matter was especially troubling for Mahl, prompting him to file a separate police incident report on Delgado’s alleged action toward Markiewicz that is part of the department’s public records.
The report, however, refers to Delgado and Markiewicz only by their initials. It lists the incidents as “anti-male homosexual (gay)” in nature and describes them as “demeaning and harassing language.”
The complaint filed by Mahl with the Internal Affairs Division and the incident report come at a time when most LGBT activists say relations between the LGBT community and the MPD have improved significantly over the past several years.
At a town hall meeting earlier this year organized jointly by MPD and the LGBT community that focused on transgender issues, Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the department continues to improve its longstanding policies and procedures calling for treating LGBT people with respect and for thoroughly investigating crimes committed against members of the LGBT community.