At the City Council’s LGBT Pride event on Tuesday, June 12, it was announced that the patrol guide that the police use will undergo changes regarding the treatment of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, according to a City council press release.
“The NYPD’s new Patrol Guide makes it clear that all people must be treated with respect,” said Speaker Christine Quinn. “I applaud Commissioner Kelly for working closely with the City Council and the LGBT community to create respectful, inclusive guidelines that are appropriate for transgender New Yorkers.”
The council’s event, which was held at Cooper Union and emceed by Whoopi Goldberg, honored the members of the NYPD LGBT Advisory Panel for their work in pushing the reforms forward.
The guidelines that the advisory panel has helped implement will affect the way police officers are instructed to treat transgender individuals, and has support from the transgender community.
"The changes to the Patrol Guide are significant,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. “Senior members of my staff worked closely with representatives from the LGBT community to draft these changes."
The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) detailed the major changes that will be made to the patrol guide on their Web site. They focus heavily on three areas: the way that police officers address transgender New Yorkers, the procedures for searching them, and the protocol for housing them.
Police, in addition to being required to address transgender individuals respectfully and refrain from using slurs that mock their gender identity, are now also instructed to address them by their preferred name and pronoun.
Searches may no longer be performed to determine an individual’s gender, and the person being searched may request that the search is performed by an officer of their preferred gender.
Finally, individuals who are being held by police should be housed in sex-segregated cells according to their preferred gender, not the gender of their birth.
If this is determined to be unsafe, then they will be considered “special category prisoners” and should not be left handcuffed to “rails, bars, or chairs for an unreasonable period of time,” according to NYCLU.
“Having the largest police force in the country, these changes to the police guide are excellent,” said Erin Drinkwater, executive director of the Brooklyn Community Pride Center. “It demands [transgender New Yorkers] are treated with respect.”
Drinkwater, while acknowledging that changing the patrol guide will not guarantee that the issues between the NYPD and the LGBT community are solved, is optimistic.
“Last year, there were a number of instances of transgender individuals not being treated with the respect they deserve,” Drinkwater said. “Having it in the manual provides for the NYPD to hold the officers accountable for their behavior.”