An Austin Police Department officer announced that the police department will continue efforts to enact “gay friendly” policies, especially in the wake of the Orlando shooting.
Detective Eric Cleveland told Fox 7 News of the Austin Police Department’s continued efforts to be more inclusive to the gay community in police dealings. The department adapted in April new policies and proceedings aimed at making the gay community feel safer in their encounters with the police. The policies include training officers on how best to address transgender citizens, suggesting that the best course of action is to ask what they want to be referred to.
The department’s first transgender officer leads the classes.
“I’ve been here for 12 years and I haven’t experienced anything negative here regarding my sexuality. I think the department fosters openness and diversity,” said Cleveland.
The new policies also teach Austin Police Department officials a new search and seizure policy. Officers are instructed not to a question a transgender or intersex person’s anatomy, reports Fox 7 News. A male officer should search a transgender male, while a female officer should search a transgender female. Should a suspect need a strip search, policy dictates that officers follow what the transgender person prefers.
“It’s respectful and it’s professional. If you are dealing with someone and you don’t know and you do it improperly than it may make them feel less like they would speak with you, less forthcoming and in our line of work you want them to be as forthcoming as possible. You don’t want people to hide certain facts especially when it comes to your investigation,” said Cleveland, a member of the gay community himself.
Cleveland serves as the Lesbian and Gay Peace Officer’s Association’s parliamentarian head; the organization supports gay employees of the Austin Police Department.
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