MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Minneapolis residents who are transgender might soon see a change in the way police interact with them.
The police department has adopted a new policy that's designed to establish guidelines for officers when they interact with members of the transgender community.
Officials say there hasn't been anything specific to inspire this new policy, rather Chief Janeé Harteau says it's simply time to address the issue. Officers interact with hundreds of transgender and gender non-conforming people every year, whether it's a crime or a call for help.
“It's to educate ourselves,” said Harteau. “As we have a growing population we need to make sure we can respectfully and serve every member of our community to our full capability.”
The chief and mayor say overall, the policy is about respect and dignity for the trans community, not exhibiting bias, prejudice or discrimination. But it seems the most important element of the policy might be the expectation that the officer use the pronoun appropriate for that person's gender identity and if they don't know, politely ask.
“We begin to have a level of respect that begins with ‘my name is, my pronoun is,’ and the officer accepting that and taking that cue as the first lead in of respect and ‘now I'm going to get to know you,’” said Roxanne Anderson, a consultant and community organizer.
“If we can get some accurate information around people's identities within those police interactions, then the reporting that you guys do will hopefully be more reflective of the identities of the people and not their past identities,” said Andrea Jenkin with the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota.
No one expects this new initiative to address every issue, but it seems for those who are transgender or gender non-conforming, it's a great start.
“You are our friends, you are our family,” said Mayor Betsy Hodges. “You are our community, you are our neighbors. We are proud to stand with you and we are proud to stand for you in the work that we do in the city of Minneapolis.”
As part of the new initiative, there is a new community engagement officer designated to deal with the transgender community.