Wednesday, January 23, 2013

LGBT youth group to NOPD Chief Serpas: "Keep Your Promise & Release Your Draft LGBTQ Policy to BreakOUT!"

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 10:13 AM

The New Orleans-based lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) youth advocacy group BreakOUT! is demanding that the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) release to the group a long-awaited policy addressing LGBT discrimination by police in a petition on Change.org. BreakOUT! is also asking NOPD representatives, including Superintendent Ronal Serpas, meet with members of the group before releasing a final policy.

From the petition site:

"Over a year ago, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) first made a promise to BreakOUT! to meet with them before finalizing an LGBTQ policy in the NOPD. In an October 2012 City Council meeting, NOPD representatives again promised to meet with BreakOUT! before finalizing a policy. BreakOUT! also submitted their own model LGBTQ policy for the NOPD's consideration on this date."

At the October meeting, Ortha Sandifer, NOPD commander of training and education, did say that police representatives were planning to meet with BreakOUT! members before finalizing a policy. According to the group's petition letter, addressed to Serpas, BreakOUT! later resubmitted its draft policy to the NOPD by email in November.

"They were notified on December 3, 2012 that an LGBTQ policy was in its final stages in the NOPD and that once it was finalized, a meeting would be scheduled with them for review. They still have not heard back from your Department."

The consent decree between the NOPD and the U.S. Department of Justice requires the police department to "develop and implement a specific policy to guide officers' interactions with members of the LGBT community, which shall prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression." The provisions were included after a 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Justice, which found evidence of significant discrimination, harassment and abuse of LGBT residents by New Orleans police officers.

BreakOUT! "Chief Ronal Serpas: Keep Your Promise & Release Your Draft LGBTQ Policy to BreakOUT!"

Reached by phone this morning, NOPD spokeswoman Remi Braden could not comment immediately as she was unaware of the petition.

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