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September 24, 2009

Alert: GLLU being downgraded again

The following was sent Thursday morning to GLAA's email announcement list and copied to D.C. Councilmembers and Mayor Fenty:

Friends,

Please see the message below from our colleague Peter Rosenstein. GLAA shares these concerns. We enthusiastically back the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. Indeed, our city's entire GLBT community has shown remarkable unity on this score. We detailed our concerns two years ago when the proposed decentralization of GLLU first arose, as can be seen from several items in GLAA's online archives from June 2007 at:
http://www.glaa.org/archive2007.shtml#y2007

We urge D.C. Council members to weigh in on our community's behalf. We have tried to work amicably with Chief Lanier and strove together as a community in 2007 to create a win-win solution whereby all concerns would be addressed as we moved forward. But it appears that since then the GLLU has been under-resourced, and now the four remaining GLLU officers are not allowed to respond to the duty pager (whose number has been widely publicized in our community) when they are off-duty, making it impossible to provide anything resembling 24/7 coverage.

It must also be understood that the value of the GLLU, which led to its winning awards, goes beyond merely responding to calls, as important as that is. GLLU has been so enthusiastically embraced across the LGBT community because of the dramatic improvement in community-police relations that it has facilitated--with *trust* being key. We are saddened at Chief Lanier's evident refusal to take our community's collective "yes" for an answer, considering the long prior history of mistrust between our community and the Metropolitan Police Department--going back decades to the days of vice-squad entrapment. How, in light of that fraught history, our community's strong support for a police unit can be treated so lightly, is beyond me. We trust that our friends on the Council will demand an accounting. We hope that Mayor Fenty, too, will take our concerns to heart. We have never sought an adversarial relationship, and our past history of cooperative efforts attests to that. But of course we have to defend our community's interests.

We should make clear our aspirational agreement with the Chief on one point: we too look forward to the day when all the members of the police force are so well informed of, and respectful toward, the LGBT community that a specialized Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit is no longer needed. But we are a long way from reaching that goal. To allow the effective diffusion and dismantling of a model and award-winning unit at this point would be a grave mistake that would undo a decade of progress.

Sincerely,

Rick Rosendall
Vice President for Political Affairs
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance

Original Message:
-----------------
From: Peter Rosenstein
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 2009 12:01:31 -0400
To: Washington Post reporters
Subject: Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit of the MPD being downgraded again

At the suggestion of Tim Craig at your paper I wanted to share some information on what Chief Lanier is apparently again trying to do to the GLLU and her total unwillingness to communicate with the community.

In May or 2007 Chief Lanier admitted to a "Rookie Mistake" ,her words, when she tried to abolish the various liaison units in the MPD. This included the award winning GLLU. At that time she met with about 20 members of the community and pledged to abide by Mayor Fenty's campaign promise of keeping the Unit at full force, seven members, and even suggested that she would expand the Unit by having officers from the the various precincts trained by the Unit and then sent back to their precincts and be considered part of the Unit.

The community applauded this idea but asked that she commit to keeping the core Unit in tact even after that and she said she would. Since that time, June of 2007, not one person has been trained.

Today the GLLU stands at 4 people and doesn't have its own Sgt. Lt. Brett Parson, who was in the Chief's Office till last Sunday was head of all the liaison units and acted as Sgt. for the GLLU. As of Sunday Lt. Parson has been reassigned and the Unit is now under Commander Grooms in the Patrol Section. Sgt. Meijas who is the Sgt. of the Latino Liaison Unit has been assigned to cover the GLLU as well and he reports to Lt. Donnegan who reports to Commander Grooms. All this was found out through sources in the MPD and Chief Lanier has yet to speak to the community about these changes.

The fact that the GLLU is now down to 4 officers means they can no longer respond 24/7. In addition even those 4 officers no longer have automatic on-call status. It is my understanding that not even their new part-time Sgt. can grant that but it needs to go all the way up to Commander Grooms. When you now call the pager number, which was given to thousands of people in the community by the MPD in case one of their officers is needed, you either get no response or are told they are no longer on call and will have to go to ask someone permission if they can respond. This clearly defeats the entire purpose of the Unit.

Chief Lanier continues to say that her vision is that the Gay or Gay friendly members of the Department in each precinct will be able to respond to the needs of the GLBT community. Well we have yet to see that happen and again recently there was an incident in the 5th precinct where in the patrol only section of the precinct anti-gay literature was found.

In addition to that it is only through a close working relationship with the GLLU that the community has found that the Department routinely underreported potential hate crimes. And even with this underreporting the incidence of hate crimes against the GLBT community in relationship to all hate crimes reported in the District, is higher than anywhere else in the nation.

All these issues together require that the public and we hope the Washington Post will ask for a public explanation from Chief Lanier about what she is doing with the GLLU and why she has not kept any of her past promises to the community.

I would be available at anytime to talk to you more about his issue and appreciate your response.

Peter D. Rosenstein

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