Washington, D.C., has the sixth-highest concentration of gays among the nation’s largest cities, as much as 12 percent of the population. So the city’s police department set up a Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit in 1999. Its head, Sgt. Brett Parson, has added a heavy dose of law enforcement to what started as a community outreach program, the Washington Post reports. “We are not just going to protect gay people,” he told Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. “We are going to do real police work.”
Other law enforcement agencies across the country like Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago have officers who deal with the gay community, but none has a separate squad like Washington’s. In addition to four full-time officers, there are eight auxiliary and reserve officers, including one transgender member. Parson, 37, has been cautioned for being domineering and using excessive force. Unlike most sergeants in supervisory roles, he makes arrests, many not related to gays, such as catching a teenager one night with 36 bags of crack cocaine. Ramsey calls him “one of the best officers on the force, bar none.” When Parson joined the D.C. police in 1994 as an openly gay officer, someone taped heterosexual pornography to his locker. He responded by taping gay porn photos on all 375 lockers in a district squad house.