Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence Oversight Hearing on the Metropolitan Police Department

Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence’s (GLOV)

STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD
Council of the District of Columbia
Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety Oversight Hearing on the Metropolitan Police Department February 27, 2013 Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) appreciates the opportunity to submit a testimony to the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety regarding the performance of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). GLOV is a local community organization in the District of Columbia focused on the issue of hate crimes against the LGBT community. GLOV’s mission is to reduce violence against LGBT individuals through advocacy efforts, community outreach and education. We also monitor cases to ensure the rights and dignity of victims are respected and protected. Hate Crimes Numbers We applaud the MPD for their efforts to decrease the murder rate in our city to a fifty-year low. However, hate crimes against the LGBT community continue to rise at an alarming rate. Although GLOV offers statistics to show the rise of hate crimes in the District, it is important to note that every statistic represents an individual. Every person is a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, a loved one. These people were victims of violent crimes because of the hatred against their real or perceived LGBT identity. From 2011 to 2012, the MPD reported a ten percent surge in bias-related crimes in the “sexual orientation” category.1 Overall, hate crime numbers in both the “sexual orientation” and “gender identity/expression” categories totaled 53 in
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Metropolitan Police Department. (n.d.). Bias-Related Crimes (Hate Crimes) Data. Retrieved February 26, 2013, from The District of Columbia: http://mpdc.dc.gov/page/bias-related-crimes-hate-crimes-data

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Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence Oversight Hearing on the Metropolitan Police Department

2011 and increased to 55 in 2012.2 This growth is indicative of a five-year trend in which hate crimes have been increasing year after year since 2007. Unfortunately, these statistics do not reveal the enormity of the challenge that the LGBT community faces. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) notes, “underreporting to law enforcement continues to be at high levels on the whole for hate and bias-motivated violence, discrimination, and intimidation.”3 In certain cases, the issue of underreporting stems from the mistrust and fear of MPD that exists within the community. The Kenneth Furr case exemplifies why this tenuous relationship between the LGBT community and law enforcement exists. In 2011, off-duty Officer Furr fired his handgun at five people, all of whom identified as LGBT. His violent actions injured three individuals. Many in the LGBT community are afraid to approach law enforcement as a result of incidents like this, even if they are isolated to a few officers. Harvard Grant to MPD’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit In 2006, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government presented the MPD’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) with a $100,000 grant. This award focused on expanding the GLLU, building strong police-community relations and promoting the GLLU model across the country. In November 2012, an article published in the New York Times reported that the MPD still had over $49,000 left from this grant.4 Previously, GLOV and other LGBT organizations asked Deputy Mayor Paul Quander to seek funds to expand the LGBT competency training we provide to the police department. Volunteers from local LGBT community organizations, including GLOV, conduct these trainings. Many of our passionate volunteers take leave from their day jobs to facilitate these trainings to local law enforcement. Deputy Mayor Quander kindly agreed to seek funding for this, but unfortunately, there has been no development on this matter. Although we appreciate the opportunity of this community-driven training initiative, GLOV believes the only way for us to build capacity and expand on these trainings is to develop a long-term plan with the necessary resources to keep it sustainable. Our organization is committed to working with Deputy Mayor Paul Quander and MPD on developing this plan. Anti-Defamation League’s Review Task Force Per MPD Chief Cathy Lanier’s directive, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is leading a review analyzing how MPD handles hate crimes and manages its
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Ibid. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. (2012). Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-affected Communities. New York: The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, p. 66. 4 Antigay Crime Remains Steady in Washington Despite Work of Special Unit,” The New York Times, November 25, 2012, p. A25.

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Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence Oversight Hearing on the Metropolitan Police Department

relations with the LGBT community. The ADL’s task force includes a number of national civil rights organization and two academics. As GLOV mentioned in previous testimony before this committee, we are concerned that this task force was created without local community input or even participation. Furthermore, despite our decade-long experience on these issues, we have no involvement in developing the final report or providing recommendations to MPD. GLOV and other organizations are on the frontlines of these very issues that the ADL reviews. We work directly with victims, interact with government officials and police officers every day, and provide much needed services to the most vulnerable in our city. GLOV’s exclusion from this process indicates that MPD lacks the resolve to put forth an effective solution to increasing hate violence against the LGBT community, given its failure to consult with local stakeholders for recommendations based on our extensive experience. Lastly, the DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) filed a Freedom of Information Act and uncovered email exchanges between an ADL official involved in the current MPD review process and Chief Cathy Lanier. These emails may indicate a potential for bias in the findings and report. GLOV takes accusations of bias seriously, and we hope the same is true with MPD and the ADL. Thank you.

Modified 2/28/2013

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