officer friendly

This gay ex-cop hopes to change hearts and minds with a run for D.C. Council

Meet Salah Czapary. He’s a former officer for the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C. who is now running for D.C. Council. He’s also gay. Oh, and he knows how to work a hula hoop!

“It was always a childhood dream of mine to be a police officer,” Czapary tells Metro Weekly. “I was obsessed with Walker, Texas Ranger as a kid. I think part of that is the way we portray police in our movies and TV shows. They’re people that are problem solvers and they’re the good guys that help people. That was always very attractive to me.”

Czapary, whose mother is Palestinian and father is Hungarian, served as an officer from 2016 until earlier this year when he announced his run for office. He will face off incumbent Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and Sabel Harris, an ANC commissioner who is challenging Nadeau from the left, in today’s Democratic primary.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Salah Czapary for Ward 1 (@czapary)

As a former officer, Czapary says public safety is very important to him, but he also understands why so many people distrust law enforcement. He hopes to help change that. One of his campaign platforms is improving the police department and officer accountability.

“I learned quickly as an officer was that people get angry at the uniform because there’s a history of that uniform that has not been on the right side of history,” he says. “I learned that quickly on, in dealing with folks on 911 calls, when they would come at me with a lot of rage and anger.”

“I recognize they’re yelling at this badge and this uniform, they’re not yelling at Salah, the person who’s wearing it. … I recognize that the history of policing has not been one that we can be proud of.”

He adds, “At the same time, what I recognize is that the police have a role to play in maintaining public safety. I think it’s important for our community to have voices within those institutions. I joined the police department in 2016, knowing that it was a reform project and that we were not where we needed to be when it comes to policing in America.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Salah Czapary for Ward 1 (@czapary)

When asked about his coming out experience, Czapary says it has been an “ongoing process” for him.

“As a gay person, you always are coming out,” he explains. “I always knew I was different. But, it wasn’t until I was 19 that I actually, and I remember this because I was driving southbound on 270 by myself in my car, and it was the first time I said out loud to myself, ‘I’m gay.'”

“I think part of that process was because I saw other people around me who were friends of mine who were coming out. That made it a little bit easier. But since then, it’s just been a process.”

It wasn’t until he was in his mid 20s that he fully embraced his identity.

“I joined the police department and I was hesitant to be openly gay initially,” he says. “Until I met a bunch of gay officers and members of the department and it made it that much easier to just be open about it.”

If elected, Czapary will be the first Arab-American on the D.C. Council and the only openly LGBTQ sitting member since 2015.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Salah Czapary for Ward 1 (@czapary)