Representatives from the Police Department and Mayor Jorge Elorza’s office, partner with local LGBTQ advocates to promote LGBTQ inclusiveness for new and current officers
Providence, RI – Mayor Elorza and Colonel Clements announced a partnership between Providence Police Department (PPD) LGBTQ liaisons, Providence Police Department (PPD) Training Academy, Sojourner House, The RI Commission on Prejudice & Bias, and the Providence Human Relations Commission (PHRC) dedicated to creating LGBTQ-inclusive polices for members of the department as well as specific training curriculum for the upcoming academy.
Dr. Jodi Glass, Coordinator of the RI Commission on Prejudice & Bias called this group together following the horrific attacks at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL with the goal of helping the LGBTQ community feel more supported and comfortable turning to law enforcement when they are in need. The group meets once a month and has already conducted LGBTQ cultural competency training for some Providence Police officers.
“The implementation of this curriculum in the upcoming academy will help our officers become more aware of issues facing the LGBTQ community in Providence,” said Colonel Clements. “Creating policies that are inclusive and providing training to our officers is imperative before they are on the street.”
“Now, more than ever, it is important that every member of our community feels safe and protected,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “This partnership is a way to let the Providence community know that we support them and we are ready to respond to their needs. As part of the One Providence initiative we have worked each week to reinforce the message that Providence is a home to all and this inclusive policy speaks directly to that effort,” Mayor Elorza stated.
The Providence Police Training Academy staff has been trained on how to improve law enforcement’s relationship with the LGBTQ community, and recently attended a seminar exclusive to this topic, which will be included in the upcoming training. The entire department is set to be trained within the next year.
Dr. Glass believes that the goals that the partnership set for 2017 are critical now more than ever, “We know that the LGBTQ communities are at greater risk of experiencing victimization. The RI Commission on Prejudice and Bias follows the Southern Poverty Law Center’s work collecting data on hate crimes and addressing related policy issues across the country. Data suggests that hate crimes have risen since November. For example, in the ten days following the election, 867 bias-related incidents were reported nationwide. We want our law enforcement and community service providers to be equipped to respond to this increased need. The training, education, support and conversations that this partnership provides will help to create a community that is safer for all of its members,” stated Glass. In addition, Glass highlighted a current resource in Rhode Island available to assist victims of hate crimes, adding “This urgency has sparked us to work with Rhode Island’s statewide Helpline (800-494-8100) which is answered 24/7 by trained staff who are best able to deal with those needing help or referrals about a possible hate incidence or hate crime.”
Sojourner House, a local domestic violence and sexual assault services provider, has been conducting LGBTQ cultural competency training for law enforcement and social service providers in the state for the past few years. “As an organization, we are dedicated to providing culturally competent services for all victims and survivors. We have programming specifically dedicated to the LGBTQ population and believe that providing inclusive services, and training other organizations on how to become more inclusive, is so important. We are excited to continue our work with the partnership and to assist local law enforcement with becoming better equipped to respond to the needs of all community members,” said Vanessa Volz, Executive Director of the organization.
Providence residents who have experienced bias, violence or discrimination are encouraged to call 1-877-3HCRIME (1-877-342-7463) , which is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
Other departments in the state with LGBTQ Liaisons, or who have an interest in learning more, are encouraged to contact the group and attend future meetings. For more information, please contact either of Providence Police Department’s LGBTQ Liaisons, Michael O’Toole at Motoole@providenceri.gov, or Captain Alyssa DeAndrade at Adeandrade@providenceri.gov.