US: Department of Justice announces nationwide police ‘transgender training’

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The US Department of Justice has announced a scheme to provide training on transgender issues to police forces nationwide.

The new initiative is intended to help the police identify hate crimes, and build trust with the trans community, which according to law enforcement officials is often reluctant to report crimes.

Associate Attorney General Tony West said last week: “It’s clear that such a training is as necessary as it is overdue.

“Too often, in too many places, we know that transgender victims are discouraged from reporting hate crimes and hate violence due to their past negative interactions with and perceptions of law enforcement.”

The training will be overseen by the department’s Community Relations Service, which helps work with local community groups to monitor and help prevent hate crime.

Harper Jean Tobin of the National Center for Transgender Equality helped design the training program, but warned that on its own it was not enough to rebuild relations between the police and the trans community.

She said: “You can’t train your way out of this problem. It’s one piece of the puzzle. It’s one tool that we can use.”

Deputy Attorney General James Cole said that too often trans people didn’t report crimes “based on the community’s fears about law enforcement’s support and perceptions.”

He said: “This is not a result that can or will be tolerated by the Department of Justice, and it runs counter to the very role your community public safety officials want to promote.”