Gays Meet With Police Chief Ramsey
A group of gay leaders led by GLAA's Rick Rosendall met with Metropolitan Police Department Chief Charles Ramsey for an hour and a half on November 9 to discuss a variety of police-related concerns. The group included Lisa Stewart of Gay Men and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV); Jessica Xavier of Transgender Nation; Carl Schmid of Capital Area Log Cabin; Dr. Patricia Hawkins of Whitman-Walker Clinic; and local movement founder Franklin Kameny. Also invited, but unable to attend, were representatives of the Gay Business Guild, DC Coalition, and Gertrude Stein Democratic Club. Joseph Gentile and William Ponton of MPD also attended the meeting.
The group thanked Ramsey for his timely support of congressional funding to implement the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Concerning community relations training, Ramsey said he planned to include gay community representatives in the next round of training in early 1999.
Responding to charges that police were illegally "profiling" transgendered citizens and treating them as prostitutes simply on the basis of their appearance, Ramsey promised to make sure his officers are not discriminating on the basis of personal appearance, but reaffirmed his commitment to enforce the law against anyone actually engaging in prostitution.
Told of reports by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender crime victims that they have been treated with hostility or indifference by officers, Ramsey requested detailed information about specific problem cases so that he can look into them. Stewart and Xavier agreed to follow up. Rosendall gave Ramsey information about the false-arrest case of GLAA member Stephen Snell, who was charged with assault on October 24 after using pepper spray to defend himself against an assailant. Ramsey, who knows and respects Snell as a tireless Logan Circle community activist, said that he would look into the case, which was scheduled for trial on December 22.
The Chief stood firm in his opposition to medicinal marijuana and to off-duty police officers working as security guards in ABC-licensed and sexually-oriented establishments. On the other hand, he expressed strong support for the city's clean needle exchange program (which has been transferred to Prevention Works, Inc.) as part of an improved drug treatment program to get addicts off drugs entirely.
Concerning homicide investigations, the Chief said he is decentralizing and reorganizing his units to be closer to the communities where the crimes are occurring, and to end what he considers over-specialization by investigators.
Ramsey suggested meeting with the group on a quarterly or semi-annual basis, and the group concurred. The group also suggested that the chief hold a town meeting with the gay community in the spring, to which he was agreeable.