NEW YORK — With the main events of Pride Month set to take place Saturday and Sunday — with police having been specifically asked not to participate — the NYPD on Thursday showcased its support for its LGBTQ members.
Leaders representing the department’s LGBTQ officers in turn showed strong support for the department, but also said that it could do more to ensure that issues that are vital to the community are addressed.
At a news conference headed by NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea at police headquarters, top brass, including Chief of Department Rodney Harrison and Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller, emphasized recent strides taken to address LGBTQ officers’ needs.
Tanya Meisenholder, the deputy commissioner for equity and inclusion, showed a gender identity and expression guide that the department has created, as well as a pronoun list for officers to use.
Plus, “I’m proud to announce that all of our employees will have the option to self-report their sexual orientation,” Meisenholder said.
Items like those, she and others said, are the result of a series of meetings that the commissioner had with leaders of the Gay Officers Action League, or GOAL, an advocacy group made up of LGBTQ officers. The meetings included the NYPD’s liaison for LGBTQ officers; they took place last summer, after a clash in Washington Square Park between police and LGBTQ protesters, in which a police vehicle was vandalized.
For his part, Commissioner Shea said he was pleased with progress that the department has made, and added that he’s open to more changes.
“We are far from perfect, but you look at the diversity of this room,” he said, “I am just so damn proud to be standing up here today.”
GOAL’s president Brian Downey said that reforms made in the department had taken hard work, but that overall, he was also pleased with the makeup of the NYPD.
“If you look over at the folks over here,” he said, pointing to his organization’s members, “it’s a diverse crowd.”
The department also showed its pride video at the news conference.
The event was in response to the city’s official Pride march’s decision to intentionally not have an NYPD group present. March and event leaders have pointed out that the origins of the parade were acts of resistance against police oppression at the Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, 52 years ago.
Organizers have asked for uniformed officers to not march at least until 2025.
Also, Carl Locke, the LGBTQ liaison of the NYPD, said that while he’s been very pleased overall with the department’s policies toward its LGBTQ members, “there are challenges for this department. There’s things this department has to do to push itself,” he said.
Asked to elaborate, he said, “There are things that we are responding to” regarding gender identity and other issues, he said. He made clear that there’s strong momentum that’s still not completed. “But we’re getting there,” he said.