In May 2010, we produced a one-hour radio show special about LGBT law enforcement officers called, “Outbeat Radio Comes Out From Behind The Badge.” This show aired on public radio station, KRCB FM in Santa Rosa, California, as a special on the weekly Outbeat Radio program. We were inspired to produce this show and to air it during National Law Enforcement Week to educate the public both about this special week as well as about a very special group of law enforcement professionals.
This show features interviews with several generations of police officers from around the United States including New York, North Carolina, Iowa, and of course California. In fact, it contains interviews from several San Francisco Bay Area law enforcement officers including the academy director from the Criminal Justice Training Center at Napa Valley College. In this show, we explore the history of LGBT officers coming out on the job as some of the challenges they faced. San Francisco Police Commander Lea Militello talks about how the AIDS crisis wiped out many of the gay men serving in the San Francisco Police Department in the early 1980′s.
Several young officers talked to us about their coming out and how they continue to enjoy highly successful careers working in law enforcement. But it’s not that way every where. One officer we interviewed told us about how he was fired after coming out and you will hear the story of one California police department being sued by three officers who experienced work place discrimination based on their sexuality. The show concludes with a discussion about training for law enforcement officers is changing for the better and how one police academy in California actually changed their curriculum to make it more comfortable for LGBT students.
This show can’t be heard anywhere else and is available free with the purchase of either of our library collections. Our hope is that you will find the stories inspiring and informative. Share the program with your straight allies and law enforcement agency leaders.