I have spent the past couple days taking in as much information as I could, regarding all that has been said about officers not being welcome to march in this year’s PRIDE parade. Understanding the magnitude of recent events, I truly wanted to reflect on your decision and the reaction by members of the community.
I am beyond disappointed that you didn’t feel you could talk with me before making such a divisive decision that has really hurt so many in our community including the LGBT members of this Department (and their family members), and those who serve and protect throughout our state.
Despite your decision, I assure you that as we have in the past, our team of officers assigned to work the parade will do all they can to ensure it is a safe and successful event. Not only is that our responsibility, it is also the expectation of those we proudly serve, which certainly includes those attending this year’s parade.
I really struggle to see how this decision helps our community heal and the message of division and not inclusion is hurtful to many of us. Police officers are more than just officers they are human beings with families who are also part of this community.
As you know, the MPD has done much in the way of community outreach with our LGBT residents and visitors. We adopted the nation’s first transgender policy and have assigned a full-time officer to our Community Engagement Team as a LGBT liaison. I know historically, our minority communities have had struggles with police interactions; this is why we’ve worked so hard to build relationships that I still feel are both valued and respected. It is one reason I was so proud to lead the PRIDE parade as the Grand Marshall three years ago. It is also the reason we had such a large presence at last year’s parade following the horrific and tragic events in Orlando.
I would like to meet with you, not only about your decision to exclude officers, but on how we can work together in the coming months to make sure everyone feels both safe and welcome.
Janeé L. Harteau