The relationship between the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the LGBTQ community has a troubling past, including allegations of sexual misconduct by an officer toward a transgender woman. However, the city was also the setting for numerous polarizing moments in the history of LGBTQ rights. For example, Chicago’s Henry Gerber formed the Society for Human Rights, the nation’s first gay rights organization, in 1924.
The CPD wants to mend its relations with the LGBTQ community. The department recently introduced a team of liaisons to help improve trust between the two groups. One officer who is a liaison explained her new role as a bridge between the police department and the LGBTQ community.
What are the liaisons’ responsibilities?
According to CPD Superintendent David Brown, the police want better and more authentic relationships with the LGBTQ population. There are six liaisons within the department — one for each area and one for the entire city. A few of the roles these liaisons will fill include:
- Supporting their fellow LGBTQ police officers with identity struggles
- Assisting victims in reporting hate crimes
- Working on reforms to further improve relations between the community and the police
As the latest step in achieving equality for all Chicagoans, the liaison program promises an opportunity for improvements in Illinois LGBTQ law in general. For example, the program may have the potential to reduce police profiling against LGBTQ residents. It may also help these members of society receive better police assistance when reporting crimes. Finally, the liaison program could lead to more fair criminal proceedings involving LGBTQ residents, whether they are victims or alleged perpetrators.