The Case For Mandated Training

Introduction

The California State Legislature is currently considering a bill that will require LGBT awareness training for law enforcement officers and dispatchers.  The proposed bill will add a section to other similar requirements included in section 13519 of the California Penal Code.  Over the years, the Legislature has put into law requirements for law enforcement to be trained on a variety of topics that many would consider to be common sense training needs.  Vehicle pursuits, domestic violence, and workplace harassment prevention, are just a few of the training topics one might assume law enforcement would have taken the initiative to provide training on its own, but alas, the profession did not until it was required.  Such is the case for training about sexual orientation and gender identity minorities.  While reasoning for this training might seem obvious, the following is the case and reasoning for why this training needs to be required across the country in every state.

The bill being proposed will require training for law enforcement officers at all levels of the organization, including chiefs and sheriffs, and dispatchers to address at a minimum the following five topics.

  1. The difference between sexual orientation and gender identity and how these two aspects of identity relate to each other and to race, culture and religion.
  2. The terminology used to identify and describe sexual orientation and gender identity.
  3. How create an inclusive workplace within law enforcement for sexual orientation and gender identity minorities.
  4. Major moments in history related to sexual orientation, gender identity minorities and law enforcement.
  5. How law enforcement can respond effectively to domestic violence and hate crimes involving sexual orientation and gender identity minorities.

The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards (POST) is the agency responsible for establishing minimum hiring standards and training requirements for law enforcement officers and dispatchers.  POST has established required curriculum for all of the 39 regional law enforcement training centers that deliver the Basic Law Enforcement Course (basic academy) and Basic Dispatch Course.  POST is responsible for 96,037 law enforcement officers and dispatchers (full time peace officers, reserve officers, and dispatchers) that work at over 500 different law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

New law enforcement officers and dispatchers currently receive training on cultural diversity and workplace harassment prevention in required basic training programs (basic academies courses).  Law enforcement officers also receive training on response to domestic violence and hate crimes.  The existing required curriculum includes minimal mention of sexual orientation and gender identity minorities.  In fact, the California POST Training and Testing Specifications for the basic police academy learning domain 42, which includes cultural diversity, there is no mention at all of sexual orientation or gender identity.  The inclusion of these subjects is left to the discretion of the 39 individual training academies.  The student workbook for learning domain 42 does make minimal mention of LGBT co-workers, but it does not come close to effectively addressing the five topics described above. There is also minimal mention of sexual orientation and gender identity minorities in domestic violence and hate crimes investigations.  It’s also clear, based on the studies to be mentioned below and recent hate crime statistics that existing training requirements have been ineffective in preventing incidents of workplace harassment and discrimination and incidents of domestic violence and hate crimes impacting LGBTQ+ people in the community.

Sources Of Information

The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Williams Institute has studied sexual orientation and gender identity minority conditions in society and in the workforce since 2001.  They have published many studies applicable to this topic including two recent specific studies about sexual orientation and gender identity minorities in law enforcement.  The 2013 study looked at how sexual orientation and gender identity minorities are treated within law enforcement.  In 2015, the Williams Institute published a study about how law enforcement relates to the greater and external LGBTQ+ community.  In both of these studies, researchers concluded that “Discrimination and harassment by law enforcement based on sexual orientation and gender identity is an ongoing and pervasive problem in LGBT communities.”  The Williams Institute also found that of all the different types of municipal workplaces, such as public works, education, fire departments, and law enforcement, the law enforcement workplace is one of the most common places where complaints of workplace harassment and discrimination arise.

Each law enforcement agency has its own leadership and management structure functioning within the same system of laws, but functions independently within a local system of governance.  The culture of these agencies varies greatly and the training law enforcement employees receive beyond the minimums required by POST vary greatly as well.  Within the scope of sexual orientation and gender identity minorities, there are programs in San Francisco, Napa, and Los Angeles, just to name a few, that are robust and inclusive already of what this bill proposes, but these programs are few and far between.  The legal requirements of this bill will insure all 96,037 law enforcement employees receive training to address the service disparities and workplace climate documented by the Williams Institute studies.

Reasoning For The Content

1. Sexual orientation and gender identity are two different aspects of who we are and are independent of any other aspect of identity, such as race and nationality.  Sexual orientation and gender identity minorities exist in every race, nationality, ethnicity, and community in California.  These two aspects of who we are transcend everything else.  This means that, no matter the demographics or geographic location in the state, sexual orientation and gender identity minorities exist.  These populations have been traditionally invisible and hidden and, of course, exist within the ranks of law enforcement as well.

It is also important for law enforcement officers and dispatchers to understand how sexual orientation and gender identity relate to race, culture and religious traditions as often these intersections are at the heart of domestic violence, hate violence, and youth homelessness.

2.  The language we use to describe sexual orientation and gender identity enable those in the minority to relate to the majority.  Law enforcement officers and dispatchers use terminology as part of descriptors of sexual orientation and gender identity in reports and in other forms of communication.  The use of proper terminology and context is critical to demonstrate respect and trust while interacting with and serving sexual orientation and gender identity minorities.

3.  The 2013 Williams Institute Study about the law enforcement workplace found that “employment discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity is an ongoing and pervasive problem in law enforcement and corrections departments.”  Millions of tax payer dollars are being paid out to settle unlawful harassment and discrimination cases occuring in California law enforcement agencies.  Organizational culture plays a large part in how sexual orientation and gender identity minorities are treated within the law enforcement workplace.  Law enforcement administrators and executives have a large role in establishing and changing organizational culture, so it is imperative that these individuals receive on how to create an inclusive workplace.  The training is equally important for line-level law enforcement officers and dispatchers since much of the harassment experienced by sexual orientation and gender identity minorities originates from peers.  According to the 2013 Williams Institute Study, “establishing a culture of acceptance in the police force and the surrounding community is likely to enhance workplace morale, improve community policing and increase overall safety.”

4.  Like many minority groups, law enforcement has a history of violence and confrontation with sexual orientation and gender identity minority groups.  From the early 20th century through the infamous “Stonewall Riots” of 1969, law enforcement has engaged in targeted enforcement of the community in ways that have created a climate of mistrust.  Though the relationship between law enforcement and the LGBTQ+ community has improved since 1969, the 2015 Williams Institute Study found that “LGBT individuals and communities face profiling, discrimination and harassment at the hands of law enforcement officers. Data from a wide range of sources show that such harassment and discrimination is greatest for LGBT people of color, transgender persons and youth.”

5.  Since marriage equality for same-sex couples became a reality nationwide in 2017, the UCLA Williams Institute reports that “as of June 2017, nearly 1.1 million LGBT people in the United States are married to someone of the same sex, implying that more than 547,000 same-sex couples are married nationwide.” California’s domestic violence laws recognize marriage as a relationship no matter where the marriage originates.  As more same-sex couples become visible, so will the incidents of domestic violence.  In fact, the rates of domestic violence in same-sex relationships is the same as it is in opposite-sex relationships (Center For American Progress).  Absent training, law enforcements officers and dispatchers receiving and responding to calls of domestic violence in same-sex relationships are likely to apply stereotypes and assumptions based on opposite-sex relationship norms.  A lack of training may even cause an officer to not recognize a domestic violence crime as having occurred between to combatants of the same gender.  Just as law enforcement receives specialized training on how to handle the sensitive nature of domestic violence calls as well as the legal requirements of such calls, law enforcement officers and dispatchers need training specific to sexual orientation and gender identity minorities who are involved in incidents of domestic violence.

Violence toward sexual orientation and gender identity minorities has always been a significant problem.  FBI and California Department of Justice statistics, based on reported hate crimes, have shown that sexual orientation as a bias motivation in hate crimes consistent ranks either second or third as the most common type of motive in hate crimes.  Traditionally, violent hate crimes committed against sexual orientation and gender identity minorities tend to be extreme.  Gay men and transgender women are particularly vulnerable. Data from the California Department of Justice and FBI in 2016 shows an increase in reported hate crimes.  Non-profit groups monitoring hate violence are reporting significant increases in hate violence directed at sexual orientation and gender identity minorities in 2017.  Law enforcement officers and dispatchers need to be aware of these trends in order to more accurately detect, document and investigate report hate crimes.  Existing California State law requires local law enforcement agencies to report to the California Department of Justice all reported hate crimes, but still some do not comply.  If the responding officer does not detect these crimes, they will not be reported correctly.

Law enforcement’s ability to respond appropriately to incidents of domestic violence and hate crimes directly impact trust from the community.  When ignorance and overt prejudice influence a law enforcement officer’s interaction with LGBTQ+ victims, trust in law enforcement is eroded.

Conclusion

The two UCLA Williams Institute studies referenced throughout this paper provide overwhelming evidence to support a requirement for law enforcement officers and dispatchers to receive training on sexual orientation and gender identity minorities.  The studies provide evidence supporting the five required areas of training specified in this legislation.  History has already demonstrated that unless this training is required by law, the law enforcement profession will not take action to provide this training on its own.

The goal with any training requirement, such as the one described in this bill, is to make law enforcement more effective and to give law enforcement officers and dispatchers what they need to be effective in serving the public and responding to calls for service.  Being effective here also means maintaining an inclusive workplace that is free from harassment and discrimination and one that doesn’t create a financial burden on public funds from the continuous payout of settlements for violations of employment law.

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The Costs Of AB 2504

It’s sad to think that any law enforcement organization would oppose training for law enforcement that would make the profession better for its own members as well as for what it provides to the public.  It’s even worse to think an organization of law enforcement executives would take such a stance, but the California Sheriff’s Association has done just that and said they oppose AB 2504 because of how much it costs.  Their position is misinformed and inaccurate.

The following are facts in response to those who claim the costs out weigh the worth.

  • AB 2504 addresses unlawful workplace harassment and discrimination. Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent every year settling litigation arising from incidents in the law enforcement workplace (UCLA Williams Institute).  As a result, law enforcement loses talented and experienced personnel.  Replacing these employees costs local agencies time and money.  AB 2504 will save tax payer money spent on all of these losses
  • AB 2504 does not duplicate existing law. Section 13519.4 PC addresses racial profiling.  The legislative intent of that section was to train law enforcement on how to avoid racial profiling.  The California POST curriculum focuses on the 4thand 14thAmendment and on race.  There is no mention of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • The training required by this bill for entry-level recruits can be incorporated into the existing hours required for the basic law enforcement academy in learning domain 25 (domestic violence) and 42 (cultural diversity) requiring no additional expense for basic training providers.
  • A training course for peace officers and dispatchers meeting the requirements of AB 2504 has already been developed and was certified by California POST on April 16, 2018.
  • An online training course for peace officers and dispatchers meeting the requirements of AB 2504 was developed in 2016 by Out to Protect, a California non-profit organization.This course is already being used by law enforcement agencies around the United States.  They will provide this course to California POST at no cost.
  • In-service peace officers and dispatchers could complete the above mentioned online training while on duty at no additional cost to the agency or California POST.
  • AB 2504 makes no requirements for a minimum or maximum length of the required training for in-service peace officers and dispatchers. Subject matter experts believe it can be delivered in a little as 2 hours.
  • California peace officers and dispatchers are already required to complete on-going in-service training. The topics required by AB 2504 can easily be incorporated into existing in-service training hours over the time period allowed by the Bill.  AB 2504 provides an opportunity to efficiently update California peace officers and dispatchers on laws related to domestic violence and hate crimes while meeting the requirements of this Bill.
  • Subject matter experts have identified and already committed to volunteering their time to work with California POST to implement AB 2504.
  • The California Community College system, as part of its mission, currently uses credit and non-credit apportionment to fund training for law enforcement in California. Funds exist to pay for classes to meet the requirements of AB 2504. AB 2504 actually benefits California Community Colleges.
  • The Napa Valley College Criminal Justice Training Center, a California POST training academy, has already committed to providing the training as well as training materials for California law enforcement to use in order to meet the requirements of AB 2504. They have a commitment of funding to provide this training.

Assembly Bill 2504 heads next to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  If you believe in this bill, we encourage you to write to committee members and encourage them to support the bill.  Share these facts about the costs.  The bottom line is that we cannot afford not to provide this training.

Click Here For A Roster Of Appropriations Committee Members

Press Release – California AB2504

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Out To Protect Collaborates On Legislation Requiring
LGBT Awareness Training For Police

(April 17, 2018, Santa Rosa CA.) We are pleased to support California Assembly Member Evan Low and his newest bill, Assembly Bill 2504 – Peace Officer Training On Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

This bill adds section 13519.41 to the California Penal Code requiring the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to develop a course of required training for all California peace officers and dispatchers that includes:

1.  The difference between sexual orientation and gender identity and how these two aspects of identity relate to each other and to race, culture and religion.

2.  The terminology used to identify and describe sexual orientation and gender identity.

3.  How create an inclusive workplace within law enforcement for sexual orientation and gender identity minorities.

4.  Major moments in history related to sexual orientation, gender identity minorities and law enforcement.

5.  How law enforcement can respond effectively to domestic violence and hate crimes involving sexual orientation and gender identity minorities.

Out To Protect founder Greg Miraglia worked with Officer James Gonzalez, LGBT Liaison Officer at the San Jose Police Department, to write this legislation in consultation with Equality California and Assembly Member Low’s staff.

The overall goal of this bill is to improve the culture in law enforcement for sexual orientation and gender identity minority employees and to improve law enforcement’s effectiveness in serving the LGBTQ+ community in California.

Miraglia testified before the Assembly Public Safety Committee today at the State Capitol.  He  responded to criticism about the cost of this training explaining that a course meeting the requirements of this bill has already been created and certified by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.  This training can be presented in a variety of ways, including online, so that there is little to no financial burden on the State or local agencies.  He told the committee that the California Community College system already funds law enforcement training and can easily accommodate this new class.

Several California police academies already provide the training required by this bill. Miraglia said, “This training will not require any additional hours for basic academy training programs and can be accomplished within the existing required time for cultural diversity.  I sincerely hope the California Police Chiefs Association and California Sheriffs Association will demonstrate support for their own LGBTQ+ employees and for the LGBTQ+ citizens they serve by supporting this bill.”

He added, “I’m grateful for Assembly Member Low’s leadership in addressing this critical training need for California’s law enforcement profession.  As a working member of that profession for the better part of my adult life, I can say with firsthand experience that homophobia continues to be a significant problem on the job.  But I’ve seen the change that is possible when training is made available to law enforcement professionals.”

In 2017, Out To Protect produced an online LGBT Awareness For Law Enforcement course and began providing it for free to law enforcement agencies across the United States.  We also developed face-to-face versions of the training now certified by California POST and presented by the Napa Valley Criminal Justice Training Center in Napa, California.

Miraglia added, “We want to help law enforcement improve the work environment for LGBTQ+ employees and to become more skilled and effective in responding to incidents of domestic violence and hate crimes reported by the LGBTQ+ community. We will lend to California POST our subject matter expertise on this topic and share all of the training materials we have already developed to meet the demands of this bill.”

Assembly Member Low With Greg Miraglia

Click Here To Read More About The Justification For This Required Training.
Click Here To Read A Copy Of AB2504

For more information or to arrange an interview:

Call Out To Protect Incorporated 707-728-5428

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031004-14

It’s a cryptic title, but accurately describes the date fourteen years ago that I took a huge risk that ended up being life-changing in all respects.  For many of us who didn’t come out as a teenager, the day is one you don’t forget.  I liken it to a re-birth of sorts.  For me, my coming out was the single most significant life-changing experience of my near 55 years on earth.  Nothing has been the same since and I continue to talk and write about it in hopes that anyone, male or female, who is living life in a closet will consider taking a risk and come out.

I won’t recount the entire story, because I have it available in detail in my books.  But I will share some thoughts about coming out in 2018 and why it is still so important especially while working in law enforcement.  If you are familiar with my writing in the books and on the website, this might sound familiar, but it’s worth repeating and rethinking.  Just like a good hostage negotiator, continuing to offer negotiations, a way out of the situation, is the key to eventually resolving the situation.  I think being in the closet is much like a hostage situation, but as the one in the closet, you are both hostage and hostage taker.  The good news is that you are in full control of when and where you give up.

Living life in the closet is truly living a lie.  It’s impractical and unrealistic to think that you can keep your personal and professional life separate and apart for an entire career.  It doesn’t work in most professions and it certainly doesn’t work well in law enforcement.  At some point, talk about and exposure to your personal life is going to happen at work.  It may begin with a casual and friendly inquiry, such as, “what did you do this weekend?”  Maybe it will be more direct, “so are you seeing anyone?”  Such questions posed to someone in the closet offer a choice to either be honest or to lie.

Being dishonest in matters about your personal life isn’t the same as not telling the truth on the stand under oath, but the impact on you personally and professionally can eventually end up in the same place.  Truth and honesty are pounded into us as recruits from the beginning of our training.  We witness colleagues being fired for dishonesty and we feel the disgrace that comes from a lie.  The stress from even a “white lie” about our personal lives can mount and impact us physically.  It’s truly no fun.

In 2018, I think the risk to an officer who lies about who they are is greater than that from coming out and being openly non-heterosexual.  In every state, you can legally be fired as a peace officer for being dishonest, but at least in most states, employment protections based on sexuality are in place.  Times are changing and there are thousands of “out” gay and lesbians working in law enforcement.  It’s not as big a deal as it once was back when I started in the late 1970’s.  Aside from the professional risks, being in the closet creates limits on your life and for what, a job?  You deserve 100% happiness in your personal life and I’m here to tell you that it is entirely possible to realize.

I will always be grateful to the guy I first came out to.  He was truly wonderful and supportive.  As I look back today 14 years ago at the agony I was in and how worried I was about taking the risk, I am reminded about how much I under-estimated my friends and family.  I’m also reminded about how much better my life is today and I continue to wish that for all of my LGBTQ+ colleagues in law enforcement.  My only regret is that I waited so long to start living my life honestly and authentically.

I’ve made changing the culture of law enforcement a focus of my work so that some day, writing encouraging posts like this one won’t be necessary.  If you need help coming out, reach out to us on the website at comingoutfrombehindthebadge.com.

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Remembering Officer John Reinert

I met Officer John Reinert on July 25, 2012 at a training program we participated in for the command staff at the San Jose, California, Police Department.  Chief Chris Moore wanted to address the homophobia within the department and arranged for a panel of gay law enforcement officers to talk with the entire 60 plus member command staff.  Officer Reinert was there video taping the program.  I remember meeting him; his deep voice, huge smile and confident handshake.  One of the officers participating on the panel was also with San Jose PD and one of only two male officers of over 1000 at the time who was “out.”  After the training, John approached us, thanked us, and told the other San Jose officer that he would like to meet up for lunch sometime.

Well, they did meet for lunch and after witnessing the discussion at the training, John came out for the first time as a gay man.  He was 56 years old and for the first time able to share his true self with someone else.  John realized quickly that being “out” was the best way to be a positive role model for others and he didn’t waste any time doing just that.  In October of that same year, in celebration of National Coming Out Day, John shared his personal story with his colleagues and with the world.

Still in 2012, a police officer coming out, even in San Jose – the 10th largest city in the nation, was a big deal.  John’s pride in himself and his willingness to help and support other LGBT officers was extraordinary from the beginning.

I remember the first time John spoke on one of the LGBT officer panels. The program was relatively new at the time and John came to observe.  When he was invited to speak about his own story, John didn’t hesitate. I will always remember the tears that were streaming down his face that very first time.  You could feel the emotion and relief, but it was the first time he stood in front of a group of more than 40 and said, “I’m a gay man.”

After that, John regularly participated on the panel discussions for our cadets.  He became passionate about being a role model and was committed to making life for gay officers better at his department.  John worked with San Jose’s current chief, Eddie Garcia, to create a first-of-its-kind recruitment campaign specifically targeting gay and lesbian applicants. It’s become a model for agencies across the country.

Not long after coming out, John met Gustavo, the man who he would fall in love with and marry.  It all happened quickly for John.  He came out to his family, introduced them to the love of his life, and then got married.  Gustavo came with John to almost every panel discussion and I could tell how happy they made each other.  Together, they were a wonderful example for our students of a loving same-sex couple.

John shared with just a few people that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  He never made a big deal of it and never stopped working.  He may not have been feeling well, but he was present, committed, and engaged.  He traveled with Gustavo and continued to live his life to the fullest while remaining dedicated to his beliefs and his work.

Officer John Reinert lost his battle with cancer on January 2, 2018.  I will neer forget his deep voice, big smile, those tears, and more recently, his big embrace.  I will keep his memory alive in our work and I know he will be present in spirit at every panel we present. John became a friend and colleague who I will miss very much.

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