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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 11, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 11
SPD releases first-ever officer training videos featuring Seattle Transgender community members
Section One
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SPD releases first-ever officer training videos featuring Seattle Transgender community members

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

On Thursday, March 10, Seattle Police Department officials released to the public, training video footage that officers designed to train the ranks on the appropriate treatment of Transgender residents.

According to officials, SPD developed the training in partnership with the Transgender community and includes personal stories from Transgender individuals.

Additionally, the video was prepared in accordance with SPD's Transgender policy that was unveiled earlier this year. The policy applies to all SPD employees and establishes guidelines for the appropriate treatment of Transgender individuals who come into contact with the Seattle Police Department.

According to the policy, 'Officers shall consider a person to be Transgender if the person identifies themselves as Transgender or, if upon reasonable belief that a person may be Transgender, the officer asks and receives an affirmative response. Officers will use their own discretion whether or not to ask a person of their gender identity.'

'The policy of the Seattle Police Department is to treat all individuals with dignity, respect, and professionalism,' the policy reads. 'Officers shall at all times abide by the Seattle Police Department's policy on respectful treatment, as well as the City of Seattle's policies and/or guidelines that prevent gender identity discrimination when interacting with Transgender individuals.'

One of the challenges for the department was making sure that the voices of the Transgender Community were highlighted throughout the policy, on the training video, and so on. By all accounts and purposes the department got it right. Transgender men and women, as well as gender non-conforming community members appear on the training videos, and it also includes Transgender people of color, members of the community that are young and old, and other intersections.

Most importantly, the video includes personal stories from Transgender individuals in the community. SPD asked them to tell the officers in training about their expectations whenever they deal with the police, too.

'We live in a diverse city, and our policies must reflect the communities we serve,' said Chief Kathleen O'Toole. 'This policy represents SPD's commitment to ensuring all people are treated with respect, dignity, and professionalism, and that they feel comfortable and safe. I want to thank our friends in this video for collaborating with us to help educate our department on such an important matter.'

The mayor, who also signed an Executive Order Thursday mandating Transgender training for all city departments, has voiced support for the new SPD policy and training without hesitation since its inception.

'I applaud the Seattle Police Department for taking this important step to create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone,' said Mayor Ed Murray. 'Trainings such as these help our officers better serve the communities they work in. I look forward to other departments developing trainings for their front-line staff, ensuring that their employees have the resources to accommodate the transgender and gender diverse community.'

According to officials, a majority of SPD employees have completed Transgender interaction training. SPD joins several other jurisdictions, including Los Angeles PD, Chicago PD, Atlanta PD, and Boston PD who have enacted Transgender interaction policies.

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