Will Sensitivity Training Make Palm Springs Cops More Gay-Friendly? Doubtful

Police in Palm Springs, Calif., will have to attend sensitivity training that teaches them appropriate interaction methods with LGBTs after cops arrested 24 men cruising for sex. What a silly solution for the real problem.

Enough already: Men cruising in public parks, that are open to families and kids, should be stamped out. Thirty years ago, it was more arguably an unfortunate necessity for gay men to find each other. These days, it’s unacceptable. But so too is the notion thees men should register as sex offenders, as prosecutors are trying to do, particularly when heterosexuals cited for the same violations have never faced such severe punishments.

And while it’s worthwhile for any police force to undergo sensitivity training when dealing with minorities, nothing will truly bring about change on the Palm Springs police force until Chief David Dominguez puts an end to raids on the gays, sends the message that derogatory language aimed at them is unacceptable — and the department starts hiring some queers. As it stands, in a city that’s a gay haven, only one lesbian cop sits on a roster of 99 cops; no gay men and, as we understand it, no trans or bi officers either.

The idea of sensitivity training, while admirable, is usually laughed off by anyone forced to go through it. It’s a chance to do crosswords and play Space Invaders. The message needs to come loud and clear from up above (with senior police leadership) and down below (with actual LGBT officers on the force).

Until then, we’ve got newspaper letter writer Barry Opdyke: “Let me see if I have this correct: The police force of Palm Springs has to attend “sensitivity” training because they targeted some gay men who were having sex in public. It seems to me that they were just doing there job by arresting individuals who were acting inappropriately and illegally in public. It seems to me the only people being insensitive here were the men who were exposing themselves and there inappropriate and illegal behavior to the public. Seems to me the “gay community” overreacted to these arrests. As a gay man, I welcome the actions of the Palm Springs Police Department in this matter.”

[SF Chron, Desert News]