Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dupont Circus?

The District of Columbia's award-winning Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit is being slowly dismantled, a cost-cutting move that say puts a vulnerable population at risk at a time when hate crimes are on the rise.

The Washington Post reports: The Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, which is staffed with gay officers, is down to four members from seven, and D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said she will not fill vacancies. Instead, starting in November, officers from the patrol division who want to work with the gay community can volunteer for special training, and those newly trained officers will be available during their regular shifts to respond to incidents in the gay community.

The GLLU -- long-heralded by LGBT leaders -- is a visible example of policing tailored to community need. Founded in 2000, the unit has officers who do crime safety outreach at gay bars and nightclubs, attend community meetings and have walked in the parade of Capital Pride, the city's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender event. It is one of the few special units in the police department that has its own Web site and an office in Dupont Circle. The unit received national recognition in 2000 from Harvard University with a $100,000 "Innovation in Government" award.

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