Katie Daveys job as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender outreach specialist is to be the face of the Boise Police Department for people who have sometimes avoided law enforcement, even when they needed it.
Davey replaces Janet Lawler, who left the department in October. Wednesday night, Davey introduced herself to members of the Treasure Valleys LGBT community. As one of the citys victim witness coordinators, the outreach will be one of her duties.
Meeting her was a relief for gays, lesbians and transsexuals who live in and around Boise, said Donna Harwood, founder and executive director of Lions Pride, a support organization that specializes in helping members of that community.
Davey is the only law enforcement LGBT outreach liaison in Idaho. Over the next few months, she said shell encourage law enforcement agencies around the state to appoint officers to similar roles.
She said shell hold periodic meetings to help her get to know the LGBT community and the issues that are most important to the group.
Daveys appointment follows a new ordinance that makes discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation for reasons of sexual orientation or identity a crime in Boise. Davey said the ordinance already has narrowed the gap between the gay community and the police.
Now they feel more open to report things like batteries that were happening, she said. Previously, if they were to report that battery and they got beat because they were gay, their landlord or employer could find out because thats public record and they could lose their employment.
Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan, who helped write the ordinance, compared the LGBT communitys perspective on law enforcement to that of Boises refugees.
Their interactions with police departments are very different from ours and so its really incumbent on us to explain that the police are here as a public service, and thats a tough barrier to break in a lot of circumstances, Jordan said.
Harwood said meeting Davey and knowing a face at the police department helps. So does the nondiscrimination ordinance.
We feel like we finally have a voice within the city of Boise, she said. And its just really a confirmation that were a part of the community too. We recognize that we need protections, but the fact that the city now recognizes it is a really big deal.
Sven Berg: 377-6275