Syracuse police must now address transgenders with preferred pronoun

Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner (Katrina Tulloch)

The world of officialdom continues to rearrange rules and language for all, based on the much-publicized confusion of a very few: This week it was the Syracuse Police Department in New York that announced a new policy on how officers should interact with transgender people.

The new rules require officers to use a person’s “preferred pronoun” during any interaction, regardless of what is on the subject’s government-issued identification, according to Officers are instructed to be respectful of a person’s gender preference and not to use language that could be called derogatory or demeaning.

The policy also lays out how to use “proper” pronouns in writing reports and how to search, interrogate and transport transgender people. It forbids officers from stopping, questioning or searching someone based on gender identity.

It says, for example, that officers should not ask about a person’s genitals or physically check anatomy.

“The goal is to be the most inclusive and respectful to all individuals,” the policy says.

The policy will be folded into the curriculum at the Syracuse Regional Police Academy, which starts a new class in January. The rest of the department will be trained on the policy as well.

Earlier this year, police Chief Kenton Buckner said his administration was working on developing a policy for interacting with people from the LGBT community, something he did while chief in Little Rock, Ark.

“We feel that our officers need that because that’s certainly a demographic that feels isolated from police in some regards,” he said in May. “In some instances they feel offended by some of the things that we do. And if we can help our officers in those moments to be able to make more intelligent decisions while dealing with someone from that demographic, we certainly want to give them all the tools to do so.”

Buckner began a review of all the department’s policies after being hired as chief. Earlier this year, the department released revised use of force policies to more clearly outline when officers should and should not use force.

Read the full policy here.


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