HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Police departments in the seven cities have all appointed LGBT liaison officers, according to Hampton Roads Pride.
Most recently, the Newport News Police Department appointed Sergeant Jessica Pennington as an LGBT liaison. Police in Chesapeake, Suffolk, Norfolk, Hampton, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach had already created the position.
Local law enforcement agencies are taking proactive steps to foster a relationship with the LGBT community and establish an ongoing dialogue to better serve the community.
Hampton Roads Pride, in cooperation with local, state and federal partners, has played a critical role in advocating for, establishing, and supporting LGBT liaison officers in local police agencies since the Norfolk Police Department created the first program in August 2015.
Responsibilities of LGBT liaison officers are different from agency to agency, but some may include:
- Serving as both a spokesperson for the organization to a local LGBT demographics as well as a representative of LGBT interests to the leaders of the organization. LGBT liaisons typically play an advisory role to organizations or government branches
- Promoting equity and inclusion in the workplace, which can enhance an agency’s ability to attract and retain the brightest talent
- Helping to build mutual trust, respect, and understanding
- Breaking down barriers and preconceived ideas that both sides have of each other. Officers serve not just as an asset for the LGBT community but also as a resource for fellow officers if they have questions or concerns about how to deal with different situations they may face
- Assisting, advising and consulting other officers on cases involving LGBT issues
- Providing training for members of the department on LGBT topics
- Meeting with business owners, community groups, and individuals of the LGBT community and present information on relevant law enforcement issues
- Attending events in the LGBT community as a representative of the agency
- Identifying and attending training related to LGBT topics
“We are grateful that every municipal police department in Hampton Roads has appointed an LGBT liaison officer,” said Hampton Roads Pride President Michael Berlucchi. “Hampton Roads Pride is encouraged by the law enforcement community’s affirmative response to the changing social and political landscape for LGBT individuals.”