With the appointment of Sergeant Jessica Pennington as the LGBTQ Liaison Officer for the Newport News Police Department, LGBTQ Liaison Officers have been appointed in all of the seven major Hampton Roads cities.
Pennington will act as a spokeswoman for the police department and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning community in Newport News, the release said.
The role includes myriad duties, including overseeing diversity training within the department, attending LGBTQ community events and promoting equality and inclusion in the workplace.
The relationship between the LGBTQ community and law enforcement is rapidly evolving in response to changing laws, policies, and social perceptions about people who identify as LGBTQ.
The specific responsibilities of LGBTQ Liaison Officers vary from agency to agency, but all serve as both a spokesperson for the organization to a local LGBTQ demographics as well as a representative of LGBT interests to the leaders of the organization. LGBT liaisons typically play an advisory role to organizations or government branches.
Liaison officers, who typically oversee diversity training on sexual orientation, attend special events and generally function as go-betweens, are viewed as critical to bridging the historically deep divide between the LGBTQ community and law enforcement. Officers serve not just as an asset for the LGBTQ community but also as a resource for fellow officers if they have questions or concerns about how to deal with different situations they may face.
Hampton Roads Liaison Officers are:
Chesapeake Police Department
Sergeant Diana Tharp
Hampton Police Department
Sergeant Nakia Peek
Newport News Police Department
Sergeant Jessica Pennington
Norfolk Sheriff’s Office
Lieutenant Meryah Breeden
Norfolk Police Department
Sergeant Craig Lovelace
Portsmouth Police Department
Captain Kenneth W. Saucer
Suffolk Police Department
Detective T. Whitten
Virginia Beach Police Department
Sergeant Michelle Meister