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.

Tagged with:

New COFBTB Challenge Coin

If you are a collector of challenge coins, add this one-of-a-kind, limited edition coin to your collection.  This beautiful coin was designed by Deputy Kasper who contributed a story to our most recent book. He is also the recipient of an Out To Protect scholarship.  This unique coin celebrates our work creating education and awareness of LGBT issues in law enforcement as well as our scholarship and grant programs.  The best part?  Your donation of just $30 helps us continue this work and in return we will send you this coin via USPS priority mail service.

Thank you for support Out To Protect.

Tagged with: , ,

LGBT Liaison Information Wanted

We are collecting examples of LGBT Liaison Programs from across the country to share as examples with other law enforcement agencies interested in developing a similar position.  We believe that ever law enforcement agency in the country should have such a position and want to do all that we can to support those agencies that recognize the importance of this position.

If your agency has a program in place, please share any information you have.  We are interested specifically in:

Job Descriptions
Program Descriptions
Selection Process
Training Provided or Required

Use the form below to submit your information.  We will assemble this information into one document to share with other agencies.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

What Is Your Job Title? (required)

What State Are You Located In? (required)

Cut and paste your program information here.

Please submit your documents in .DOC, .TXT, or .PDF format, submit it here.

By checking this box, I authorize Out To Protect Inc. to share this information with other law enforcement agencies interested in developing an LGBT Liaison Program.

Complete this verification and press submit.

Tagged with: ,

LGBT Civil Rights Under Attack

This week the Trump administration took two aggressive actions against the rights of LGBT people that could certainly have a direct, significant, and negative impact on LGBT law enforcement professionals.  First, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo overturning President Obama’s interpretation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include employment protections for transgender people under the existing definition of gender in the Act.  In his memo, Sessions wrote:

“Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.”

This action gives employers, including law enforcement executives, the ability to legally fire someone because they are transgender.  While there are a few states with protections against this kind of discrimination, the majority of states in the country do not have laws to protect against this kind of action, even for law enforcement officers.

Perhaps the most sweeping and potentially damaging act came today when the Attorney General released a second directive related to religious freedom.  He wrote:

“Religious liberty is not merely a right to personal religious beliefs or even to worship in a sacred place, Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law,” Sessions wrote. “To the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity.”

The Attorney General has given license to government officials and private business owners to refuse service to LGBT people on the basis of their individual and personal religious beliefs.  Again, in states where laws exist to protect access to service from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, this directive has no impact, but for much of the country, LGBT people could face harsh forms of discrimination.

We condemn both of these actions and urge every member of the LGBTQ+ community and our allies to speak out in protest. This is a call to action.  Every member of our community needs to take some level of action to oppose this administration’s efforts to undermine our rights and to relegate further into second-class status.  Give to a local LGBT civil rights organization or to a national organization.  The National Center For Lesbian Rights and Human Rights Campaign both are fighting hard against this administration.  No matter your feelings about these two organizations, they are the ones in Washington with the greatest ability to fight for us.  We can expect this problem to grow worse.  We are beyond “waiting to see what will happen.”

Tagged with: ,

Model Recruitment Campaign

San Jose, California is the nation’s tenth largest city and located in the heart of Silicon Valley where companies like Apple and Google call home.  The San Jose Police Department is actively recruiting to fill hundreds of police officer jobs and Chief Eddie Garcia has created a model recruitment campaign targeting the LGBT community.  Chief Garcia is committed to hiring a rank and file that represent the diversity within San Jose and he recognizes that LGBT people are currently not represented as prominently in his department as they should be.

We had a chance to meet with Chief Garcia at his request earlier this year and are pleased to share with the world the model recruitment campaign he and his talented staff produced.

The campaign includes posters and videos with a consistent theme and message intended for lesbian and gay officers.  And while they don’t specifically call on transgender people by name, they do clearly include couples of various gender combinations.  The heart of the recruitment message is that “all families” are welcome to join the San Jose PD family.  It’s brilliant.

It’s one thing to put on a recruitment flier some generic “all minority applicants are encouraged to apply” message and quite another to design one that messages a specific minority group with a direct call to apply.  This is how departments should be designing recruitment campaigns for all groups under represented in the rank and file.  Potential applicants need to see themselves in the images used and the text should call to them specifically.  If you want lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender applicants, then say it.

The videos San Jose PD created can be used on television and of course on social media.  They will be seen by current potential applicants and, most importantly, by aspiring applicants who might not otherwise have even considered law enforcement as a career because of stereotypical beliefs that LGBT people either wouldn’t be welcome or even eligible to apply.  It’s one thing to say you want LGBT applicants and even more to show what that looks like.

Each version of the video includes the same message and campaign theme.  The message is clear and strong – “we want your family to join our family.”

San Jose PD is launching this campaign during the annual Pride celebration in San Jose.  In addition, Chief Garcia created an LGBT Liaison position to continue this relationship building effort moving forward.  LGBT Liaison officers are essential for every law enforcement agency, large and small.  They not only help with recruitment, but they work on building trust between sexual orientation and gender non-conforming minorities.  Unlike race and other visible minorities, LGBT people are largely invisible, so without a visible point of contact through a designated LGBT Liaison officer, law enforcement agencies are working in the dark with any effort to connect with the LGBT community.

One of the intended outcomes of this targeted recruitment campaign is to encourage still closeted San Jose PD personnel to come out.  There are several lesbian officers who are “out”, but only two gay men who are “out” on the department of over 800.  The Chief has said that he recognizes changing the culture within a police department is difficult and a slow process, but he is committed to the idea that everyone in his rank and file should be able to bring there entire self to work.  Campaigns like this one show commitment to his word and send a strong and visible message to the agency culture that LGBT employees are valued and that you can be “out.”

We applaud Chief Garcia and the San Jose Police Department for creating a model for all law enforcement agencies on how to effectively recruit applicants from under represented groups within the community.  We are especially pleased to see such an effort being made to call out to LGBT applicants.  Bravo!

For information about this recruitment campaign, please call:

Officer James Gonzales at
Officer John Reinert at

Tagged with: , , ,