Just Treatment of Transgender People in NYPD Custody
Dear Police Commissioner Ray Kelly c/o the New York Police Department, We, members of New York City’s transgender communities, community organizations, advocates, and allies, ask that you implement changes in the New York City Police Department (NYPD) policies that would improve our safety in interactions with the police. Specifically, we insist that you adopt the “Proposed Policy for the Treatment of Transgender People in NYPD Custody” and the associated changes to the NYPD patrol guide, submitted to the NYPD in April 2009. Transgender New Yorkers report experiencing verbal harassment, disproportionate arrests for ‘quality of life’ offenses, invasive and unlawful searches for the purpose of determining gender, and housing placement in NYPD custody that could expose them to harassment and violence while in NYPD custody. To respond to these needs, a group of New York City based community organizations and individuals – including those who have personally come into contact with the NYPD – came together to propose comprehensive changes to the NYPD patrol guide. We drew on our own experiences as well as on the policies of cities that have led the way in addressing interactions between police and transgender communities, including Washington, D.C.; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Toronto, Ontario. The result of this work is reflected in the Proposed Policy for the Treatment of Transgender People in NYPD Custody that includes: *NYPD officers will refer to an arrestee with the name and pronouns the arrestee has used to identify him or herself and not require proof of an individual’s gender or challenge an individual’s gender identity. *NYPD officers will refrain from using slurs or making lewd, derogatory, or harassing remarks based on gender (including gender identity and expression), sex, or sexual orientation. *NYPD officers will not ask personal questions about gender (including gender identity and expression), sexual orientation or practices, or medical history unless necessary for an investigation. *NYPD officers will not construe gender identity or expression as evidence that an individual has engaged in prostitution or any other crime. *Under no circumstances shall NYPD officers frisk or search any person for the purpose of determining that person’s gender or to view or touch the person’s genitals. *Placement decisions about a transgender arrestee will be based on a determination of where the individual will be safest . The NYPD is failing to meet constitutional standards of treatment for transgender people in police custody. Instead, transgender New Yorkers have experienced unjust and inhumane practices that violate their rights. By adopting these policy recommendations, the NYPD can take a necessary step closer to fulfilling its own promise of courtesy, professionalism, and respect for the transgender community and all New Yorkers. We demand your leadership on this issue and the immediate implementation of the Proposed Policy for the Treatment of Transgender People in NYPD Custody. Sincerely, The Undersigned.