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Police Blotter – March 28, 2014

Police_Measuring_Skirt_LengthPoliceman Chuck Peyton checks to see if the old-fashioned bathing suit worn by actress Myrna Ross complies with 1933 Redondo Beach ordinance banning women’s suits that are more than 3 in. above knee.

This “police blotter” posting contains three law-related stories involving the transgender community – one positive, and two negative.

Let’s start with the positive, and discuss a new program by the Department of Justice to train local police officers across the nation to better protect and serve transgender persons. As National Public Radio reports,

The new initiative is aimed at helping police identify hate crimes and build trust with a community that law enforcement officials say is too often reluctant to report crimes.

“It’s clear that such a training is as necessary as it is overdue,” Associate Attorney General Tony West said at a ceremony unveiling the program. “Because too often, in too many places, we know that transgender victims are discouraged from reporting hate crimes and hate violence due to their past negative interactions with and perceptions of law enforcement.”

Deputy Attorney General James Cole said it was unacceptable that transgender people don’t report crimes against them “based on the community’s fears about law enforcement’s support and perceptions.”

“This is not a result that can or will be tolerated by the Department of Justice, and it runs counter to the very role your community public safety officials want to promote,” Cole said.

Strong words which I hope form a new basis for trust between our people and law enforcement.
Francesca_QuarantaOfficer Francesca Quaranta

Now a negative report – last November I reported on the case of a Connecticut police officer who filed harassment charges against her department after coming out at work. Unfortunately for Officer Francesca Quaranta, an investigation undertaken by the City of Middleton, Connecticut has found “no evidence that a transgender police officer was subject to discrimination or a hostile work environment.” Now, I report this as bad news not because I’m passing judgement on the city – I’m sitting 1,500 miles away and know nothing at all about the case, although I can point to a history where discrimination against our people is the norm, rather than an exception. It’s bad news because Officer Quaranta obviously feels she was the victim of harassment, and this investigation provides no closure for her.

Finally, a story no one wants to see, but which we need to report upon, because the haters out there will report on it, and we need to be informed so we can be ready for those who want to “teach the controversy.” A Columbus, Ohio transgender woman is being charged with one felony count each of sodomy and child molestation, resulting from an alleged incident between the defendant and a 15 year-old boy. The accused, Christopher Antwain Russell, told police that the teen claimed to be 18 years old. Reading the details as reported in the link above, it really appears to be a case of “she said, he said,” with little to no physical evidence.

What’s the truth? I’ll keep an eye open for developments.

CLEVELAND: Violent Murders of Two Transwomen in Two Days

ClevelandStatistics are a funny thing, in that clusters of seemingly related events can occur, which could lead one to think there is a pattern or a particular influence.

That being said, two transwomen being murdered in two days stretches the laws of random chance just a bit, especially when we number less than 1 in 5,000 in America.

In the first case, Brittany Sturgis, age 22, had her life put to an end in what police say looks like a hate crime. Sturgis was sitting in her car outside a nightclub, apparently minding her own business, when someone shot her in the head, killing her instantly.

In the second case Betty Skinner, a 52-year-old disabled transwoman was found dead in her apartment. She died of lethal head injuries, and homicide, not robbery, appeared to be the motive.

Cleveland hasn’t had a great reputation as a safe place for transwomen – this last January Ce Ce Dove, a 20-year-old transwoman was stabbed 40 times by her date, who was enraged that the woman he was dating had a penis. Her body was thrown into a pond, and her killer was caught, convicted, and sentenced to 20 years with parole.

Two violent deaths in two days worry Cleveland transgender community | cleveland.com.