New trans policy on the books for police
by Jen Colletta
Jan 09, 2014 | 1065 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Philadelphia Police Department is in the process of rolling out new guidelines aimed at ensuring law-enforcement officers treat transgender and gender-nonconforming citizens respectfully.

The department finalized its new directive Dec. 20, said police spokesperson Lt. John Stanford, and is currently examining best practices for implementation.

“We’re working on fine-tuning it all, and how to best train people and implement this the proper way,” Stanford said, noting that most, if not all, districts have received a copy of the directive as of presstime. “It’s one thing to have a policy on the books but another to implement it the proper way. So we’re right now finalizing it in terms of how to go about implementing the policy.”

This marks the first time the department has a stated policy instructing personnel on how to interact with transgender and gender-nonconforming people, Stanford said.

The effort was largely led by LGBT Liaison Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel, who worked with LGBT community leaders and police personnel to craft the nine-page directive.

The guidelines are comprehensive, and cover everything from interacting with trans victims, witnesses or suspects to communicating information about trans people to the media.

Foremost, the policy instructs officers to ask the individual his or her preferred name and pronoun usage.

“The overall aim is to make sure we establish a policy regarding interaction with transgender individuals where people are treated properly, with the courtesy and dignity they’re supposed to be treated with, as human beings,” Stanford said.

Its media policy now requires law enforcement to refer to transgender individuals with their chosen name and gender identity, if such information is available from the individual or family and friends; previously, police would rely on an individual’s government-issued identification when releasing information to media.

Also among its stipulations, the directive includes definitions and terminology applicable to the transgender community, mandates officers cannot question an individual solely based on his or her gender presentation and cannot use derogatory language. It also instructs law enforcement to transport and house transgender suspects apart from general-population suspects when possible.

Stanford said there will be repercussions for officers who do not follow the policy.

“Just like with any other policy, if someone violates the policy, then there will be disciplinary action that they face internally,” he said. “This is going to be treated the same way. There is now a policy within the department and expectations for all of our officers to follow that policy just as they would with any other policy. And they will be held accountable.”

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