Problems with the police chief’s Advisory Board?Bottom Highlights, Conversations with the Mayor of Hillcrest Thursday, June 12th, 2014
Commentary: Conversations with the Mayor of Hillcrest
Mayors, police chiefs, etc. have had special advisory boards that have included Latinos, women, veterans, African Americans etc. and only a couple of decades ago did public officials add LGBT advisory boards to that list. These citizens’ advisory boards play an important role in keeping the public officially informed and more understanding of the diverse community’s in San Diego.
I have had the honor of serving and chairing congressional, mayoral, police chief and sheriff LGBT advisory boards and know first-hand the importance of these community boards.
Last week I attended the monthly meeting of the San Diego LGBT Leadership Council at The Center. This leadership council is made up of the officers or executive directors of our LGBT organizations. One of the agenda items was a report from Police Officer Daniel Meyer about the status of the current LGBT Advisory Board to the police chief of San Diego. As the organizer and past chair of the first established police LGBT board I had a major interest in Police Officer Meyer’s report and it was a most upsetting one.
When questioned, Officer Meyer informed the LGBT Leadership Council that the current Police LGBT Advisory Board had no lesbians or LGBT people of color on it; that a transgender board member had just been appointed and also another bar owner. I told Police Officer Meyer that it was totally unacceptable that there were no lesbians or LGBT people of color on this police board and also this board meeting only once a year was also unacceptable.
When I assisted then Police Chief David Bejarano in establishing the first LGBT advisory board I made sure that the women’s, transgender, leather, bi-sexual, people of color and bar/business community was represented on this police board and we met regularly with the police chief and this continued under my chairmanship of Police Chief William Lansdowne’s board.
Well, it seems after I stepped down as chair a lot of things changed and not for the best and this LGBT advisory board has become a “token” and window dressing situation … totally unacceptable.
After the meeting, Police Officer Meyer called me and apologized and said that he was committed to fixing the situation and also said he felt like he let our community and myself down and I quickly responded, “You did!”
You see, Officer Meyer is openly gay and has been in this position for almost five years. This LGBT advisory board should have never been without lesbian, people of color or transgender representation ever … period. It should have also been meeting more regularly. The bottom line is that this situation happened under Police Officer Meyer’s watch, although I do respect that he is taking his responsibility and now doing his best to change this police board to better represent the diversity of our community. Our community’s leaders and activists must also learn from this and always keep our eyes on and nose in all LGBT advisory boards to elected officials.
Now, for the good news. As you all know our new Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman has only been in her position for a few months and was unaware of the current LGBT Police Advisory Board’s composition and has ordered a complete review and update of all her citizen’s advisory boards. Police Chief Zimmerman and I had a most productive conversation and, needless to say, as our city’s first female police chief she is very committed to diversity and full representation on her citizen’s boards.
She, too, found the current lack of lesbian and people of color representation on the LGBT Police Advisory Board unacceptable. Trust me, this will not continue or happen again on her watch.
Police Chief Zimmerman also committed to attend the next meeting of the LGBT Leadership Council and agreed to my request that she hold a special meeting of transgender leaders to educate her more about this part of our community and its needs and problems.
I salute the San Diego LGBT Community Leadership Council for focusing on the LGBT Police Advisory Board and requesting an official report from Police Officer Meyer. I also appreciate Officer Meyer’s honesty and acknowledgement that there is a problem with this GLBT advisory board. But, most of all I highly commend our new Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman for her quick action upon learning about the situation and compatible membership of her LGBT advisory board will be coming within a month.
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