DENVER — The Denver Police Department has become the first law enforcement agency in the state to have certified liaisons for the LGBTQ+ community.
The department completed training from Out to Protect, a national organization that works to support LGBTQ+ officers and help departments better serve LGBTQ+ citizens.
Lieutenant Michelle Folmar, one of the newly certified liaisons, said she and her wife have always felt supported by the “family” of DPD officers. However, she knows that's not everyone’s lived experience, which is why she is proud to be a part of this program.
“It gives a framework to have, sometimes, those tough conversations of what we’re doing right and, you know, what we need to make improvements on,” Folmar said.
Denver PD is only the third agency in the nation to become certified through Out to Protect.
Folmar described the training as comprehensive and “meaningful.” She said DPD is already one of very few agencies with dedicated bias-motivated crime detectives, and this training will further the department's ability to appropriately handle these crimes.
“One of the things that Out to Protect really focuses on is how to, one, identify what a bias-motivated crime is, how to investigate it, how to work with our other law enforcement partners,” she explained. “And then, most importantly, how to make the community safe and how to give resources to folks who aren’t feeling safe.”
Upon completion of the program, the liaisons for DPD created two small visual symbols to employ in its daily operations. The first is a Pride police badge, ringed with rainbow colors, for officers to wear as a show of support and solidarity. The second are small pride-themed coins, which can be given out to recognize good acts by officers and citizens alike.
“I believe, when we learn more about all of our diverse lived experiences — and by having that communication, and by having that partnership and familiarity — that in and of itself is how we continue to make the community as a whole safe,” Folmar said.
Accreditation from Out to Protect lasts for three years, according to a press release from the organization, and requires the agency to report how it is maintaining standards each year. Denver PD has joined the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety in California and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Florida in accreditation.