Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Comment of the Week: Dan Massey on DC Police Ignoring Anti-Lesbian Attack

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | August 07, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-gay violence, DC police, hate crimes against LGBT people, LGBT violence, police misconduct

Comment of the WeekI'm teaching a course on policing this Fall, and I was struck by Dan Massey's comment on this story about the DC police refusing to take a complaint by five lesbians who were attacked by two men, who punched them in the face, causing extensive bruises and lacerations, and the police let the men go, and threatened to arrest the women because they were "too agitated." I have seen similar behaviors by police on a number of occasions and it inevitably stems from poor training and supervision. Given that several officers were involved in this incident, it can't be ascribed, it seems to me, to one rogue officer.

Dan Massey commented, in response to a question about the DC LGBT police unit:

"Sorry to have to correct you, but there really is not much in the way of a functioning LGBT unit in DC police, thanks to intervention by the hold-over chief from the Fenty administration. It is time for a fierce reorganization of DC police and district wide establishment of trained GLLU officers in EVERY precinct, with authority to act is special as well as internal affairs capacities. The officers who committed this travesty should be severely reprimanded, receive critical notations on their personnel files, and be placed on temporary leave and required to attend EXTENSIVE retraining. On a second offense of this type, well...use your imagination.

By the way there are excellent DC police officers, including especially the leadership of the old GLLU, but also others, who have spoken up about this, and they deserve our heartfelt appreciation."

While the DC police department later grudgingly took the womens' complaints after a video surfaced of this incident, I think Dan Massey's comment is right on -- the fish stinks from the head, as the old saying goes, and this is the fault of the current DC police chief, Cathy Lanier, who has gutted the LGBT liaison unit, and who earns $253,000 per year, the fourth highest paid police chief in the country, allegedly building a private gym for herself and top brass while a severe fiscal crisis in the city has cut 400 police jobs, and whose treatment of staff is under fire. This is not the first time the MPD has been confronted about refusal to file bias-related crimes. Do you think she should be asked to resign? What say you, Projectors?

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It doesn't take "sensitivity training" to get cops to do their jobs. And, if the "training" is so effective, why wasn't/isn't this "training" a part of police academies' core curriculum?

Good morning Jillian! I've been thinking about this incident since I first read about it on the Washington Blade yesterday and am appalled by how far the Washington police department as fallen in the past few years. Back when I was still in my AS/IT course I had a terrific class called "Multicultural Law Enforcement" that centered on police culture, leadership, training, and the bias that runs rampant throughout the nation's law enforcement agencies - at all levels.
Two things from that class stick out in my head (groggy as that is with my allergies this morning): Leadership and agency culture are both derived from the top down, and, second, because of the old-boy's club within law enforcement agencies (at all levels and branches) women will always get the stinky end of the stick - whether as fellow officers, victims, or perpetrators.
The book we used for that course, which I highly recommend you take a look at for your course, is: Multicultural Law Enforcement: Strategies for Peacekeeping in a Diverse Society / Edition 4 by Robert M. Shusta, Philip R. Harris, Aaron T. Olson, Herbert Z. Wong, Deena R. Levine
Barnes and Noble have new and used copies of this text on their Web site starting at $2.50. New it's a little steep, at $125 - thankfully I got mine as part of the course materials. Fantastic book, and the sections on women and LGBT issues are extremely well done.