By Rebecca Sheir
Members of D.C.'s LGBT community are skeptical about the Metropolitan Police Department's plans to expand its gay and lesbian liaison unit.
The GLLU had seven members when it began nine years ago. As MPD Assistant Chief Diane Groomes explained Tuesday at a public meeting, now "there are four officers assigned; however, only two are full duty." So MPD is offering voluntary GLLU training to officers later this month. "And I think with this expansion there will be more outreach," says Groomes, "more availability, you know, more contact for the community."
Still, some members of the community aren't so sure. Like Todd Metrokin, of Gays and Lesbians Opposed to Violence, or GLOV. He says MPD statistics indicate a rise in anti-gay hate crimes.
"So I hope that your reorganization of the MPD is truly going to be able to address this problem," says Metrokin. "I fear that it's not, but I hope for the best."
June Crenshaw, another activist, has fears of her own. "So the Chief's goal is for all of the 4,000-plus officers to be culturally competent in specialty areas, says Crenshaw. "Why is this training optional and not mandatory?"
Groomes says MPD wants to train officers who are especially motivated to tackle LGBT issues. So far, nearly two-dozen officers are interested in taking part. "Maybe more would want to once they learn what it's about, but I think it's good for a start," says Groomes.
The training is scheduled to begin November 30th.