An external website for the Metropolitan Police Department's (MPD) Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) is no longer operating, prompting some local LGBT activists to question why the site – which they use as an important resource in combating anti-LGBT crimes and fostering relations with MPD – was recently shut down without notice.
Brian Watson, director of programs at Transgender Health Empowerment (THE), said he was shocked to learn that the website gllu.org had been shut down after one of his clients tried to access it.
(Photo by Todd Franson)
''I'm surprised they shut it down, especially considering that most of the resources and materials and magnets we pass out that they gave us advertise the website,'' Watson said. ''More recently, they came by with a few new fliers announcing a new phone number for the GLLU, but it didn't have the website on it.''
He added that with a recent change in the GLLU phone number as well, THE clients who experience violence or harassment may have difficulty contacting the GLLU directly. He said that not all of his clients have regular access to the Internet or to phones, and others won't follow up if they don't know where to be routed.
David Mariner, executive director of The DC Center, the District's LGBT community center, said he too was surprised to find the site down in early November. Several other community groups also complained to Mariner, who posted a note on Facebook, and some contacted Metro Weekly to find out what happened.
Earlier this month, after the shut down, the message greeting visitors to what had been the GLLU's site read:
''GLLU.org website shut down. If you need police assistance, call 911. At the request of the Chief of the DC Metropolitan Police Department, the GLLU web site at www.gluu.org has been shut down. The reason provided was 'budgetary issues,' however the website has been maintained for the past 10 years by a volunteer staff at zero cost to the Department. To access information about the current unit, please visit mpdc.dc.gov.page/gay-and-lesbian-liaison-gllu on the MPD web site.
''GLLU.org previously provided community policing information, safety tips and alerts, hate crimes information and other information of value to the GLBT community. The volunteers who maintained the site since its inception would like to thank you for your interest and support.
''Several years ago, MPD's GLLU was a nationally-recognized example of community policing, winning the Harvard Innovations in American Government Award and a large grant to duplicate its model of policing around the country. In 2006, the GLLU logged over 500 cases involving events or crimes by, against, or involving the GLBT community. In 2011, GLLU's numbers dwindled to approximately 50 such cases for the year. To read about the award-winning work that GLLU performed, click here or watch the video below.''
The site then posted a link and a video to the page, both of which contained information about the unit being awarded the grant for its innovations in policing.