NORFOLK, Va. - Things were different for Captain Johnathan Coghlan when he joined the Norfolk Police Department as a gay man in 1990.
“It was explicitly understood that we were not welcome," Coghlan said.
But that is not the case anymore.
“The dynamic has really changed 'cause there is much more widespread acceptance," Coghlan said.
Detective Emily Cahill joined the department less than three years ago. Joining an inclusive department was important when selecting where she wanted to serve and protect.
"It’s important to the citizens that they be reflected in the police department. They want to see the community where they live patrolling in their areas," Cahill said.
Officers say their presence in the community is important.
“People, especially other gay members, feel comfortable talking to me that wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to my partners," said Officer Trayshawn Humphries.
It can also help defuse situations.
“There were some times when I would go down there and walk around, and a lot of people would come up and say, 'She’s OK; she’s one of us,' so that made me feel good and I was able to deescalate the situation,” said Detective Alyce Clark.
The department is currently recruiting, and they want people to know that there is a place for you. Click here to learn about opportunities within the department.
Officers will also be at Saturday's Pridefest at Town Point Park celebrating with the community.