Personal safety remains a top concern for many LGBT individuals, especially in light of violent incidents directed toward members of Baltimore’s LGBTQ community in recent years. Too often, police are not viewed as allies in addressing these concerns – and are sometimes even seen as threats themselves.
The issues and more will be discussed in an open conversation between LGBT elders and Sgt. Kevin Bailey, the LGBTQ community liaison for the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), at an upcoming Lunch & Learn workshop presented by The LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care on July 12th.
Sgt. Bailey discussed his role as the LGBTQ community liaison for the BPD.
As the Baltimore Police Department’s liaison to the LGBT community, what does your job entail?
Some of my duties include working closely with the LGBTQ community on a variety of community-related events and issues:
• meeting with the police commissioner to discuss the BPD’s work with the LGBTQ community and briefing the commissioner about incidents that are affecting the community
• monitoring all LGBTQ-related crime statistics and responses
• ensuring LGBTQ crime victims receive victim’s assistant and resources ideal for their need and
• developing policies, procedures, and training for the police department, along with cultural competency training.
In your opinion, what are the most significant public safety issues facing Baltimore’s LGBTQ community?
Unreported crime is the most significant public safety issue facing Baltimore’s LGBTQ community. Factors that may deter a victim from seeking help from the police include fears of being outted, mistreated by the police, or not being taken seriously.
Sadly, the vast majority of information pertaining to the LGBTQ community I stumble onto comes from social media, not police reports. More often than not, I take the crime information obtained from social media and run it past my contacts within the LGBTQ community. Sometimes I’m successful convincing the victim to come forward and other times not.
How is the BPD working to address LGBTQ issues?
First and foremost, the best way to address many issues that the LGBTQ community has with the police department comes down to trust. Each time an officer encounters a member of the community that interaction helps build the foundation for renewed trust. That’s why I’ve worked so hard to make sure the LGBTQ training for all officers is comprehensive. I didn’t want LGBTQ training to be just a piece of paper with a new policy on it. The training contains practicums, classroom training, and workshops that introduce officers to real-life, flesh-and-blood individuals that have been affected negatively by law enforcement interactions.
The BPD has hosted several different trainings on LGBTQ culture competency over the past few years. I also teach at some of the trainings, and often members of the community participate as well. I regularly attend meetings and training within the community – hearing constructive criticism from the LGBTQ community about the police department is always the best report card.
Managing expectations is also a big part of being an LGBTQ liaison. It is essential departmental policy and procedures are taught to my community. When the process and procedures of reporting crimes are understood, community members feel empowered and know their rights are protected.
Every day I work hard to tell my LGBTQ community that, not only am I ‘Baltimore Police Department Sergeant Kevin Bailey’, but also someone who embraces their concerns as my own.
I constantly study other cities and law enforcement agencies regarding the way they deal with LGBTQ concerns. As a result, I was able to start a new safety initiative called “Safe Place.”