DOJ Trains Cops to Help Transgender Crime Victims
The Justice Department launched a program Thursday to train local police departments to better respond to transgender individuals, a population authorities say is disproportionately harmed by violence.
The new initiative is aimed at helping police identify hate crimes and build trust with a community that law enforcement officials say is too often reluctant to report crimes.
"It’s clear that such a training is as necessary as it is overdue," Associate Attorney General Tony West said at a ceremony unveiling the program. "Because too often, in too many places, we know that transgender victims are discouraged from reporting hate crimes and hate violence due to their past negative interactions with and perceptions of law enforcement."
The training effort is being overseen by the department’s Community Relations Service, which was established under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and works with communities to prevent and respond to hate crimes.
The initiative comes as police departments face scrutiny over their responsiveness to crimes against transgender people. In Washington, D.C., for instance, Police Chief Cathy Lanier acknowledged in response to a task force’s report that the department needed to do more to build trust with the city’s transgender community.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole said it was unacceptable that transgender people don’t report crimes against them "based on the community’s fears about law enforcement’s support and perceptions." Sixty-one percent of respondents in a national survey in 2011