BALTIMORE — The Baltimore police department on Friday announced the formation of an advisory council to help improve its relations with the LGBT community.
The ten-person council will be comprised of activists, civil rights advocates and attorneys who will work to improve the atmosphere for gay and transgender officers within the department, and increase efforts to recruit from within the LGBT community, reported The Baltimore Sun.
Baltimore police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts promised he would form the council following the Christmas day 2012 beating of Kenni Shaw, a gay man who was attacked in his east Baltimore neighborhood.
Sgt. Eric Kowalczyk, the Police Department’s liaison to the LGBT community, said Shaw’s beating “created a sense of urgency” to create the new panel.
Batts, who created a similar committee as police commissioner of Long Beach, Calif., appeared at a gay community rally days after Shaw’s attack and promised his support.
“More times than not, we find the most vulnerable communities throughout the city are the communities that have the most fractured relationships with the Police Department,” said Alvin Gillard, co-chair of the council and director of the city’s Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement.
“Until now, we haven’t invested the appropriate resources to develop the trust,” said Gillard.