By Michelle Dungan and Veronica Zerrer
The 3rd Annual LGBT / Law Enforcement Summit was held on Thursday, June 6 at the former San Diego Chargers Training facility, now repurposed for San Diego Police Department (SDPD) use. The conference was hosted by SDPD, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSO), and the San Diego office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The summit is for LGBTQ+ leaders of organizations from the San Diego area.
An FBI press release with a list of law enforcement and related attendees is at the end of this report.
Although the format largely consisted of criminal justice system (law enforcement, courts, detention) and LGBTQ+ organizations presenting policy, the summit opened with questions and answers from Assistant SDPD Chief Al Guaderrama, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Scott Brunner. A mutually beneficial dialogue went both ways for the opening hour of the morning. A few observations were made:
● Sheriff Bill Gore noted a concern of the LGBT community is that if you are arrested, you’ll be jailed in their facility. Although this applies to everyone, LGBT and particularly Trans concerns were discussed later.
● Scott Brunner, FBI Special Agent in Charge, stated the FBI is committed to addressing hate crimes. From the audience, Veronica Zerrer, President of Neutral Corner, expressed concern over potential active shooter incidents and asked for a tri-fold brochure on how to respond. Brunner stated the FBI has resources of this type and other training materials on their website. Sean Redmond of Stonewall Citizen’s Patrol mentioned they were doing public safety training at The San Diego LGBTQ Center the following Saturday.
● Another audience member called for local officials to request that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) not detain Trans migrants with men. Sheriff Gore and US Attorney’s Office representatives replied they would facilitate dialogue.
● Progress on various fronts is occurring: The FBI reported they’ve updated their national database to state more gender markers than simply “male” or “female”.
Later the SDSO Detention Training Unit desctibed their 4-hour LGBTQ+ awareness training, their providing for access to National Institute of Corrections on-line training, and other ongoing training of detention staff. It should be noted the pre-operative vs post-operative status is not the only criteria used to determine whether one is placed in the men’s vs the women’s facilities vs the small dorm units. The individual’s potential to be a victim vs a predator, how they identify, criminal history, and other factors also help in the determination. Fernando Lopez and Jen La Barbera of San Diego Pride also discussed some of these issues.
Other topics covered by the audience:
● Piper Smith called for a better response by law enforcement when interacting with minorities having permits for Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW), and said there is a lot of anxiety out there. The response was that there needs to be lots of training.
● Audience member Sean Travers, head of the San Diego LGBT Community Leadership Council and Director of the UCSD LGBT Campus Center, voiced concerns over how law enforcement deals with the LGBT community, saying some in his community did not support him engaging in dialogue with the police. A response by a representative of law enforcement was that one means of addressing these issues was more recruiting.
In a later presentation, San Diego Police Officer Christine Garcia, a Traffic Crash Reconstruction Officer who also pulls double-duty as the Transgender Community Liaison Officer, explained that gender non-binary is now an option for certain identification documents such as a California Driver’s License (CDL) per Senate Bill 179 (SB-179), the Gender Confirmation Act of October 15, 2017. It allows for an “X” in place of male or female. Officer Garcia also developed a draft training bulletin for procedures on how police can interact appropriately with the non-binary community, and presented the document to A.T. Furuya who concurred with the content.
Carolina Ramos of the San Diego LGBT Center said assylum seekers get referrals to The Center by law enforcement. The general public has an assumption that everyone requesting assylum has their request granted and that all are from Mexico and Central America, but the assumption is not correct. Each person is interviewed to determine validity of claim, and many applicants are also from Africa and Russia.
Lieutenant Daniel Meyer of SDPD discussed Senate Bill 54 (SB-54), known as the California Values Act, which prohibits local law enforcement from cooperating with the federal government regarding an individual’s immigration status.
Victim’s assistance is available at both the local and federal level. The FBI provides victims assistance, as does the San Diego Family Justice Center, a part of the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, who said they provide assistance to victims of domestic violence in any sort of relationship and that assistance is provided whether a suspect is apprehended or not. At the county level, similar support is provided by the District Attorney’s Office.
Although we could not attend the remainder if the summit, lunch was prepared by detention center culinary school students. If as delicious as it sounded, they’ve learned a lifelong, transferable skill that will never be outsourced. Lunch was followed by a K-9 presentation and a tour of the 9-1-1 Communications and Emergency Operations Center.
Community organizations attending or involved in presentations are as follows:
● California State University, San Marcos (CSUSM), LGBTQA Pride Center
● Fraternity House, Inc.
● Armed Equality
● Metropolitan Community Church (MCC)
● Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – San Diego
● Mental Health America – San Diego
● North County Resource Center
● Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) – San Diego
● Rainbow Lion’s Club
● Lambda Archives
● Lambda Legal San Diego
● San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus
● San Diego LGBT Black Coalition
● San Diego LGBT Pride
● Trevor Project
● SDPD Advisory Board
● University of California, San Diego (UCSD) LGBT Resource Center – Rainbow Club
● Stepping Stone of San Diego
● Stonewall Citizen’s Patrol
● San Diego LGBT Center (“The Center”)
● The Center, Hillcrest Youth Center
● The Neutral Corner
● Trans Family Support Services
FBI press release link and text below:
FBI San Diego
Special Agent Davene Butler
San Diego Law Enforcement Host LGBTQ+ Community Leaders at Third Annual Summit
SAN DIEGO—Today, the San Diego Police Department (SDPD), San Diego Sheriff’s Department (SDSD), and the San Diego Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) hosted a gathering of LGBTQ+ community leaders from a variety of community groups in the San Diego area.
The annual summit was initiated to build community relations between San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community leaders and law enforcement agencies. The meeting was organized to provide a forum for candid discussion and exchange of ideas to best serve the LGBTQ+ community. The goal of the summit is to address community concerns; provide a forum for leaders from both backgrounds to learn from each other; provide the LGBTQ+ community with liaison contacts; and to discuss federal/state laws and policy which affect the LGBTQ+ community, including hate crimes.
The first meeting, held in 2017, was hosted by FBI, SDPD, and SDSD and was attended by leaders of several LGBTQ+ community groups. Each year, the event has grown in attendance. This year, over 90 registrants, including leaders from more than 23 community groups serving San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community and representatives from more than 14 law enforcement agencies, attended the meeting.
This summit demonstrates San Diego law enforcement’s shared commitment with the LGBTQ+ community to building strong community partnerships.
The following law enforcement agencies attended the summit: Carlsbad Police Department, Chula Vista Police Department, Coronado Police Department, El Cajon Police Department, Escondido Police Department, Family Justice Center, FBI San Diego, Harbor Police Department, National City Police Department, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, San Diego Police Department, San Diego Sheriff’s Department, University of San Diego Campus Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District Of California.
(NOTE: The San Diego Family Justice Center, part of the Office of the San Diego City Attorney, was also present.)