Mayor Vince Gray's Office of GLBT Affairs made its first public announcement under the new leadership of Jeffrey Richardson this week, sharing the Metropolitan Police Department's new phone number for reaching officers with the Metropolitan Police Department's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU).
(Photo by Todd Franson)
''The [GLLU] upgraded its On-Call Duty Pager to a more modern BlackBerry device. The BlackBerry has phone and e-mail capabilities. When seeking GLLU assistance please call, 202-506-0714 or email firstname.lastname@example.org,'' the release advises.
That news stirred some controversy.
David Mariner, executive director of The Center, the local LGBT community center, expressed concern that Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), a project of The Center, had purchased and distributed key chains in recent months with the old GLLU number printed on it. The Center, he adds, still holds hundreds of key chains with the old number in storage.
''There is no way GLOV would have made this kind of financial investment if we had known you were going to change your phone number,'' Mariner wrote to MPD Capt. Edward Delgado in a Jan. 24 e-mail. ''This is a significant waste of financial resources for us, and a lost opportunity to partner with the local community for GLLU. I find this a bit frustrating.''
Delgado responded by saying that the old pager lacked the technology to receive calls, texts and e-mails, and that the GLLU would be conducting a campaign to spread word of its new number. He added that the old pager number would work for 30 days.
Brian Watson of Transgender Health Empowerment, while approving of the more advanced GLLU communication capabilities, shared some of Mariner's concern on MPD's Special Liaison Branch (SLB) listserv, on which GLLU concerns are aired.
''From the perspective of someone who works with the transgender community – and our clients don't always have fixed addresses or ways of communicating this change – I would not feel comfortable trying to get the word out to a good portion of the community in 30 days,'' he wrote.
MPD Chief Cathy Lanier provided the final response, replying to the discussion on an MPD listserv, writing: ''They are being left in place for a few more months. We appreciate everyone's feedback.''
Page the GLLU at 877-495-5995. Messages may be left at 202-727-5427.