NORFOLK, Va. – Hampton Roads Pride announced Tuesday that all seven cities in the area have appointed LGBT liaisons.
Sergeant Jessica Pennington was appointed the LGBT Liaison Officer for the Newport News Police Department, making all seven cities united with this position.
The organization said they work with regional law enforcement agencies in order to take pro-active steps towards enhancing their relationships and to establish meaningful, ongoing dialogue to best serve the community.
Hampton Roads Pride said they have advocated for the appointment of LGBT Liaison Officers in local police agencies since Norfolk Police Department created the first program in August of 2015.
The organization said they played a critical role in coordinating, advocating, establishing, and supporting these important positions, in cooperation with local, state, and federal partners.
The specific responsibilities of LGBT Liaison Officers vary from agency to agency, but Hampton Roads Pride said some responsibilities include:
- Serve as both a spokesperson for the organization to a local LGBT demographics as well as a representative of LGBT interests to the leaders of the organization. LGBT liaisons typically play an advisory role to organizations or government branches.
- Promote equity and inclusion in the workplace, which can enhance an agency’s ability to attract and retain the brightest talent.
- Liaison officers, who typically oversee diversity training on sexual orientation, attend special events and generally function as go-betweens, are viewed as critical to bridging the historically deep divide between the LGBT community and law enforcement
- Help to build mutual trust, respect, and understanding
- Break down barriers and preconceived ideas that both sides have of each other. Officers serve not just as an asset for the LGBT community but also as a resource for fellow officers if they have questions or concerns about how to deal with different situations they may face.
- Assist, advise, and consult other officers on cases involving LGBT issues
- Provide training for members of the department on LGBT topics
- Meet with business owners, community groups, and individuals of the LGBT community and present information on relevant law enforcement issues
- Attend events in the LGBT community as a representative of the agency
- Identify and attend training related to LGBT topics