I became a police officer to serve my community. Serve with pride, integrity and passion. I am proud of my 16-year career with the San Diego Police Department, and I wouldn’t change one day of this journey. The SDPD, in my opinion, is the elite. From proud community relations and service to the day-to-day work our officers put in, I am truly honored and appreciative of those I consider my family. That family consists of the people I come to work with every day and the communities I have strived to provide with excellence in policing.
I have had proud moments and I have made my fair share of mistakes along the way. After all, it’s what makes me human. This career has taught me to take the good with the bad moments in life and always seek to do and be better. Ten years ago, under the leadership of Chief William Lansdowne and Assistant Chief Shelley Zimmerman, I was selected to become the department’s LGBT liaison. I was excited to embark on a position which would make a positive difference in my community. I made a promise to myself, in that moment, that I would not relent in my efforts to continue to strengthen community relations and do the necessary but hard work to show my community how much compassion and love this department has shown me they have for their communities.
We have made several positive strides in that work. From creating policy identifying how SDPD interacts with LGBT individuals, to how our department will support LGBT employees in their process of coming out and transitioning. We have continued to improve on ourselves and created an environment that encouraged two employees to come out and transition on duty. I am proud of the work the San Diego Police Department’s Transgender Liaison Christine Garcia and I have done to make SDPD a more inclusive and understanding agency. With that being said, I also recognize a need for change on a national level within community relations with law enforcement, specifically in the African American community.
Throughout those 10 years, I have felt a portion of my community express their frustration with law enforcement in general. While it has been concerning for me to know some of my community does not agree with working with law enforcement, and at times have refused to come to the table to talk, I have always pushed forward because I have known the work we are doing is important and imperative. The latest policy decisions excluding law enforcement are not new instances of exclusion. From being protested out of The LGBT Center to protests of law enforcement in Pride to San Diego Pride and The LGBT Center unanimously voting to oust law enforcement from the parade, their property and events, the difficulties have been aplenty.
These decisions have provided for a crossroads of sorts for me. I have a mixture of emotions, which have heavily weighed on my mind and my heart. While I recognize the decision made by San Diego Pride and The LGBT Center does not represent the LGBT community as a whole, it does in fact reflect the opinions and standing of two of the most prominent and influential organizations in our community. San Diego Pride and The LGBT Center have made a clear statement in their actions. As LGBT liaison, I cannot support these decisions because doing so simply negates the amazing work done over decades.
Decades ago, an opposite argument existed. That argument was fostered in disappointment. Community disappointment that their Police Department would not participate in the Gay Pride parade. This was seen by the community as a lack of support for the LGBT community, rightfully so. Eventually, through community engagement and effort from both sides of the table, law enforcement began to foster those necessary relationships and walk hand-in-hand with the community in Pride every year. Additionally, we have had a long-standing relationship of cooperation and understanding with The LGBT Center. The decision to remove law enforcement from Pride and The LGBT Center quite simply provides for giant leaps backward in history.
Lately, I find myself at an impasse. The police officers I work with have accepted me and cared for me with open arms. In fact, the support I have felt from the department has been nothing short of impressive and inspirational. Unfortunately, I have not always been treated the same way by some members of my community, the one place I always felt should not support or condone the divisiveness that separates us as people. Some in the community only see me as a uniform and a badge. This was evidenced in that LGBT Center protest when a protester shouted, “We don’t care if you’re Gay or Trans. You’re still a pig to us.”
So here I am, at this crossroads. One in which I have a decision to make. To stand for what I believe is right, or simply push forward, sacrificing all the tireless work accomplished by myself and my colleagues in both communities. I can assure you I have made this decision with a heavy heart. I have decided to step down from the department’s position as the LGBT liaison. Thank you. Thank you to all who truly strived to make things better.
Times like these sometimes suggest a need for change. Christine Garcia will continue to serve the LGBT community as the Transgender liaison. It is time for another SDPD member to have the opportunity to serve the LGBT community as the liaison with a fresh outlook and with new ideas. I am encouraged and will support the needs of all communities and whomever the department chooses to take on the role as the LGBT liaison.