A decision to move the San Francisco Police Department’s citywide LGBT liaison into a district station has upset members of the SFPD LGBT Community Forum. They apparently fear the change will hurt the SFPD’s ability to work with the gay community across the city.
Officer Jennifer Thompson, the LGBT liaison, has been heavily involved in the monthly forums, which started last year after the program was launched by former Police Chief George Gascón. Gascón now serves as the city’s district attorney.
In a Thursday, June 28 email, David Morgan, a forum member and owner of the gay bar Kok, wrote, “Chief [Greg] Suhr doesn’t seem to ‘get it’ when it comes to the importance of having a citywide LGBT liaison officer in San Francisco. His awareness of global issues affecting the LGBT’s in San Francisco is disappointing.”
Morgan said his message was in response to reports that Suhr had decentralized the community relations unit and discontinued the LGBT community liaison.
He said Thompson would remain a community liaison and she’s been “awesome” in the position, but she and other community liaisons will now also have to be available for routine police work. The SFPD has had a drop in the number of officers.
“I got my marching orders from the Board of Supervisors” that “we want our police officers outside being police officers,” Suhr said.
“We can’t have specialists anymore, because we just don’t have the people,” he said.
Thompson doesn’t appear too eager to talk about the matter – she hasn’t responded to an interview request – but Suhr indicated she’s behind Morgan’s message.
“I don’t know why Jen is doing this,” he said, adding there are “a million cops right now calling whoever they can” and saying, “Don’t let them move me out of the Hall of Justice.” He said he thinks Thompson is going to Park Station, which oversees part of the Castro neighborhood and the Haight Ashbury area.
Suhr, who’s been with the SFPD for more than 30 years, added, “Jen and I are good. … I’m a total ‘no harm’ person, and I’ve been a cop for a long time.”
“Change is the bane of a police officer’s existence,” he said.
The LGBT and business forums have been the two most active groups, Suhr said. He said that through the community forums, “My ability to connect with folks in a variety of places in San Francisco other than just Mission has been great,” referring to the SFPD’s Mission Station, where he has been a captain and which oversees the Castro and other neighborhoods. “Now I have friends in Southern, Northern, Park,” and other stations “that are perfectly comfortable calling me up” and telling him what they need.
“It really allows me to go to my folks and say, ‘I got a call from a friend, somebody I know personally and that I trust,’” he said.