Police LGBT liaison aims to help vulnerable group

Posted at 11:30 PM, Nov 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-04 23:30:18-04

It was a show of force, as these things go, with vans full of police recruits armed with flyers and detectives by their side.

It was mid-September and the Baltimore Police Department was seizing that brief window it says it has after a murder to scrub the 3600 block of Fairview Avenue looking for a lead to punch through the three stubborn facts they already had: Ms. Crystal Edmonds was a transgender woman, she was a sex worker and she was shot in the head.

It was a murder in an already vulnerable population and the third such killing in just more than a year.

Sgt. Kevin Bailey knows those cases well and the community even better. Bailey is the LGBT liaison of the Baltimore Police Department, a position that only existed part time until his full time appointment by Commissioner Kevin Davis a year ago.

"It was really progressive how the agency was moving forward and recognizing that some communities were still not being heard or feel like they are not being heard," Bailey said.

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Last month we caught up with Sgt. Bailey while he was running one of the commissioner’s speaker series, part of Kevin Davis’ community policing initiative educating officers on the diversity and history of Baltimore.

Sgt. Bailey conducts his session four times a year at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; cops learning the L,G,B,T and Q's of a vulnerable population from the leaders of it.

In the session, officers learn to break down the concept of sexual identity versus gender, understanding transgender, even receiving forms suggesting how police should introduce themselves to a victim by asking their legal name, preferred name...and perhaps their gender pronoun.

It is a new education for many, but terminology Davis said is crucial to a new policing model brought to bear in the recent DOJ report.

"That's what Sgt. Bailey does and he makes us better and facilitates interactions like this today that I really do think make police officers more aware of the sensitivities surrounding our interactions with everyone in society," Davis said.

"There's never a bad question because you are trying to get a better understanding and I think through this series it's given by the community, it is not given by the police officers so it's not police officers teaching police officers,” Bailey said, “It is actually community people, community organizations teaching our officers things that are going on in the community, things that they see. "

Things like a rising murder rate among the transgender population. Twenty-two transgender women were murdered in the United States last year and already by mid-September this year there have been 20.

Most recently is the case of Crystal Edmonds in Northwest Baltimore.

It is a case Sgt. Bailey is assisting with, his fifth LGBT sensitive crime he will be working in 2016 as he serves as a bridge from police to community in the hopes of better protecting a vulnerable group.
In the past, the police department needed proof of a hate crime before it could be labeled as such.

Now, if there is a mere suspicion of a crime being related to LGBT issues, Sgt. Bailey is brought in. Bailey has worked 10 such cases since 2015.

Meanwhile, the murder of Crystal Edmonds is still unsolved, if you know anything that can help, call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCKUP.

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