According to an e-mail circulated this morning by Rick Rosendall of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, police Chief Cathy Lanier has decided to “decentralize” the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liason Unit—-much to Rosendall et al.’s concern. The unit had been working out of a Dupont Circle storefront, but according to Rosendall’s e-mail, GLLU members will be assigned to the seven district commands.
Rosendall’s e-mail, including “10 Reasons Not to Decentralize MPD’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit,” after the jump.
From: “Rick Rosendall”
Subject: Action Alert: Stop Decentralization of GLLU
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2007 12:31:06 -0400
GLAA learned late yesterday that Police Chief Cathy Lanier has decided to decentralize the Metropolitan Police Department’s award-winning Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit effective this coming Sunday, June 17, and to reassign its officers to patrol districts around the city. The unit’s members are exceedingly unhappy about this, as are we.
Please join us in urging Chief Lanier and Mayor Fenty to rescind this decision and to keep this model police unit intact. Below are ten talking points you may find helpful. You may want to copy D.C. Council members and Chris Dyer of the Mayor’s office of GLBT Affairs, as we have done in this message. I am also blind-copying GLAA’s press list with this message.
Let’s work together to help GLLU as they have so often helped us. This is no time to be taking a step backwards in keeping with the unofficial motto of governments everywhere, “If it ain’t broke, break it.”
Vice President for Political Affairs
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance
202-667-5139 (GLAA voicemail)
10 Reasons Not to Decentralize MPD’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit
Talking Points from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance
Thursday, June 14, 2007
1. Chief Lanier’s plan to decentralize GLLU effective Sunday, June 17, and to reassign its officers to individual patrol districts, will effectively destroy the Unit. This is completely unacceptable to GLAA and to numerous community members who have spoken with us. If GLLU officers are to report to district commanders and are assigned to PSA patrols, that will effectively erase the Unit as an identifiable and cohesive force. Chief Lanier had agreed with GLAA in March that the Unit should continue to be centrally managed.
2. The Unit has been quite active; it handled over 500 assignments last year.
3. The Unit has responded as needed all over the city, including east of the river. Any notion to the contrary on the part of Chief Lanier is simply ill-informed.
4. No Unit officer has applied for overtime, despite being on call and responding to incidents as required at all hours.
5. The community need is indeed city-wide, but is not evenly distributed; locking Unit officers into particular patrol districts is an inefficient use of resources.
6. GLLU was recently awarded the Richard L. Schlegel Legion of Honor Award by American University’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally Resource Center. GLLU was recognized in the ‘Visionary Leader’ category for working against violence and making outstanding contributions to GLBT communities. Why is Chief Lanier so determined to decentralize an award-winning unit which has brought credit and positive press to the Department? She is fixing something that isn’t broken.
7. GLLU last year was awarded the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award from Harvard University’s Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation for reaching out to an under-served community and creating a model for community policing. This involves a $100,000 focused grant; the administrator of the grant has indicated that the grant monies will be lost if the unit is effectively abolished by being decentralized. There is no good reason why this should be allowed to happen. Such heedlessness from our chief of police is deeply troubling.
8. The Chief’s stated plan to have marked cruisers identified as associated with GLLU would be counterproductive in several communities, particularly east-of-the-river communities and immigrant communities throughout the city, in which GLBT citizens are often closeted as well as uncomfortable being visited by police in their homes. The Chief would have known this had she consulted with members of the Unit or with community leaders who have been hearing this from members of our community for years. As an example of this problem, many customers of Whitman-Walker Clinic over the years who live in Southeast have preferred to go across town to the Clinic’s 14th Street NW location to avoid being seen going into or coming out of the Clinic’s Max Robinson Center in Anacostia.
9. The GLBT community members with whom the Chief met some months ago, as facilitated by Sgt. Brett Parson, no doubt had legitimate concerns, but that should not be used as an excuse either to shut out experienced community leaders from any input into decisions or to claim a community mandate for decisions that are the Chief’s own, based on her own convictions.
10. The Unit’s members strongly desire to remain centrally organized as they currently are. These are highly motivated and dedicated public safety officers in a deservedly award-winning unit, with first-rate leadership from Lt. Alberto Jova and Sgt. Tania Bell. The Unit and its leadership should remain intact.