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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Portland Police Will Hire LGBT Liaison, Beef Up Old Town Patrols

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Another week, another press conference at the Q Center.

Two weeks ago, LGBT Portlanders and their allies packed the center to sound off about recent gay bashings.

One week ago, Attorney General John Kroger occupied the center to announce his response: whipping up a system for victims to anonymously report hate crimes online.

Finally, this week, Mayor Sam Adams and Chief Mike Reese called the press to the Q Center to announce that the Portland Police would make several changes to prioritize prevention and investigation of hate crimes like gay bashings.

Chief Mike Reese: Will destroy crime with a smile.
  • Chief Mike Reese: Will destroy crime with a smile.
The police are pursuing three changes:
1. Hiring someone "within the next couple weeks" to be a liaison to the LGBT community. This officer would be the go-to person to work with on bias crimes, though Chief Reese said they wouldn't so much be responding to calls (like, showing up at the scene of a gay bashing) as keeping an eye on cases as they work through the system.

2. Training victim advocates who will be assigned to bias crime cases and can help the victim through reporting a crime and the follow-up interviews and court system.

3. Working with the Q Center to train and work with queer patrols, modeled on the Pink Panthers or Guardian Angels, who will walk the streets downtown on weekend nights, keeping an eye out for trouble. I was imagining sort of a gay ninja squad, but Q Center Director Kendall Clawson says these patrols will not be trained in martial arts but deescalation and their main role would be to call the police if they saw any potential violence. That idea doesn't sit well with all LGBTers, some of whom don't want to work with the police at all. If the crews can't come together, it's possible they could splinter into multiple queer patrols.

UPDATE: Mayoral spokesman Roy Kaufmann called to clarify that the police won't be hiring someone from outside the police department for the LGBT liaison position, it will just be an existing officer who will be appointed to the new role in addition to his or her regular duties. Having that job added on top of an officer's regular beat is disheartening—they won't have as much time to actually be a thorough liaison.

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