We have long known that many LGBTQ people have been harmed by the enduring legacy of white supremacy and the criminal justice system. People of color, especially Black people, face disproportionate levels of discriminatory and violent treatment from law enforcement.
We also recognize that disproportionate violence against Black people, abusive practices, and lack of accountability for police misconduct are endemic to the current policing system in the United States.
We fully support systemic changes to policing, including comprehensive measures to make it the norm rather than the exception that law enforcement officers are held accountable for misconduct, and demilitarizing police departments.
When the Human Rights Campaign began giving points to municipalities – through its Municipal Equality Index – for having law enforcement liaisons, we moved to create an initiative that encouraged accountability within these roles – instead of it just being a title given. Our intent was to have liaisons speak to historical and present day trauma while also building trust between LGBTQ communities and law enforcement. We believe the best way to facilitate healing is by increasing accountability, actively playing a role in community conversations, events, training, and policy reform.
We have seen benefits from the LGBTQ Law Enforcement Liaison initiative. Connections that Garden State Equality made through starting the liaison initiative facilitated important advancements like a comprehensive statewide policy on respectful treatment of transgender people by law enforcement. In addition, LGBTQ Law Enforcement Liaisons have advocated internally within the criminal justice system for LGBTQ community members who have had negative interactions with law enforcement officers.
We know, however, that the conversation taking place across our nation about racial injustice and equity involves everyone. We must be an active part of not just that conversation, but of the change we want to see. In addition to creating an environment of healing, significant structural changes must urgently be made, and we intend to continue advocating for those changes with impacted communities going forward.
We are having deep conversations and looking internally at where the organization can and must do better.