March 4, 2016 at 5:02 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. Police LGBT unit ‘greatly diminished’
Cathy Lanier, MPD, Metropolitan Police Department, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said LGBT Liaison Unit affiliate officers have been responding to calls for LGBT-related matters during the midnight shift and at other times.(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The chair of the D.C. Anti-Violence Project, which formerly was called Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence or GLOV, told a City Council hearing on March 2 that the presence of the police department’s LGBT Liaison Unit has been “greatly diminished” in recent years.

D.C. AVP Chair Stephania Mahdi presented the group’s concerns over the current direction of the LGBT Liaison Unit in testimony before a police oversight hearing conducted by the D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary.

“In January 2016 the D.C. police department made the problematic decision to end the LGBT Liaison Unit’s midnight shift,” Mahdi told the committee. “The midnight shift has often been the unit’s busiest time period; higher rates of violent crime and domestic violence occurs during late-night hours,” she said.

“The unit has also seen a sharp reduction in its full-time staff,” she continued. “Furthermore, liaison officers are being tasked to unrelated patrol duties for a majority of their shift. One could deduce that officer response time and focus on LGBT-related calls for service has been greatly diminished,” she said.

Added Mahdi in her testimony: “The truth of the matter is the LGBT community does not feel the same level of support from the Liaison Unit that they have received in previous years.”

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, who also testified before the committee, said LGBT Liaison Unit affiliate officers have been responding to calls for LGBT-related matters during the midnight shift and at other times. The affiliate officers are assigned to each of the department’s seven police districts.

Lanier also said that the full-time LGBT Liaison Unit officers are on call at all times and have responded to LGBT-related calls during the midnight shift. During the past year Lanier has said the department was facing a shortage of officers due to a “retirement bubble” and she has had to reassign officers in various specialized units to street patrol duties during part of their daily shifts.

LGBT activists, including officials with the DC AVP, have expressed concerns that the LGBT affiliate officers may not have received the training needed to enable them to carry out liaison unit duties. Activists have said the department may also have cut back on the number of officers taking a longstanding LGBT cultural competency course.

“The department’s support of a robust dedicated liaison unit, carefully vetted and trained liaison officers, support of the LGBT cultural competency course, and finally the restoration of the LGBT Liaison Unit’s midnight shift” are actions the department should take in the coming months, Mahdi 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

  • DCAVP is not going to get a serious response from DC Council’s homophobic liars and anti-police bigots, Kenyan McDuffie and Phil Mendelson.

    They will both feign concern– and maybe provide some empty promises and hearings. But there is a pattern of homophobic/ transphobic hypocrisy and intentional neglect in both politicians’ lack of demand for effective LGBT public safety protection.

    And it is highly questionable whether DCAVP’s new officers understand how much they are effectively controlled (or quietly influenced) by MPD’s ties to DC’s ADL and ADL’s ties to and/or funding of The DC Center.

    Obviously, the real or potential conflicts of interest can be problematic, since each entity in that tangled web has competing interests with one or more others.

    Hopefully DCAVP has a level of independence (and therefore, greater public credibility and power) than GLOV appears to have been granted by TDCC.

    Both the LGBTQ public and DCAVP should understand that the slashing of the LGBTLU (GLLU) happened to a much larger degree than the despicable slashing of MPD’s overall sworn police force by, effectively, at least 600 officers– when taking into account DC’s increased population growth of nearly 100,000 in roughly the same period of time.

    Judiciary/Public Safety Chair McDuffie, AND former CM and J/PS Chair Tommy Wells, AND their predecessor as J/PS Chair, now-Council Chairman Mendelson all presided over that secretive, nearly decade-long de facto slashing of MPD’s total sworn police force by 600 officers or more.

    Mendelson, Wells and McDuffie were joined in this dishonest, stealthy cutting of DC police force protection by the acquiescence and/or agreement of THREE successive mayors– Fenty, Gray and now Bowser.

    Despite their half-truth/ half-lies to the contrary, Mendelson, Wells and McDuffie all knew these cuts by attrition and population growth were occurring to MPD — AND GLLU (now, LGBTLU) and were happy to help cutting DC’s police because they had and/or have an apparent degree of personal and/or political bias against MPD’s rank-and-file police officers.

    During this same period, Chief Lanier has slashed MPD’s LGBTLU (formerly, GLLU) down to next to nothing. It is fair to say that Lanier has never been a fan of the LGBT unit and, especially, its separate liaison station at Dupont Circle. Nor did Lanier like the overall Community Policing model former Chief Charles H. Ramsey left her in 2007. That’s mostly due to a difference in police management philosophy I believe.

    However, a tipping-point in MPD’s force size has been exceeded, I think.

    Now, MPD’s overall police force has been slashed so much, that even if Lanier wanted to (or was directed to) rebuild LGBTLU/GLLU and other Special Liaison police services, she simply doesn’t have the needed sworn membership to do that.

    It appears Council is more opposed to an effective MPD force size than Mayor Bowser is. But Mayor Bowser should lead the city in demanding that Council stop their resistance to an effective police force size for patrol visibility, mobility and protection. That’s what provably deters violent crime.

    Just as importantly, Bowser should VETO McDuffie’s homophobic, violent crime encouragement SCAM, ‘NEAR’ until its SECRET $9,000-payoff to violent criminals is dropped.

    Council’s NEAR scam will do more to encourage violent crime– including violent anti-LGBT hate crimes– than anything else, but perhaps, more slashes in MPD’s effective force strength.

  • I get so tired of being treated as a 2nd class citizen.

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