LGBT Community Liaison Program Accreditation
We believe in LGBT Law Enforcement Community Liaison Programs as one of the most effective ways of building a trusting relationship between a law enforcement agency and the LGBTQ+ community it serves. LGBT Community Liaisons have a proven track record of success dating back to 1962 and Sergeant Elliott Blackstone of the San Francisco Police Department. Today, LGBT Liaisons play an instrumental role in procedural justice by giving voice to the community and building a trustworthy relationship through respectful interactions with the community. LGBT Liaisons increase a law enforcement agency’s legitimacy with the LGBTQ+ community and we offer an accreditation program to bolster the credibility of this work.
Out to Protect is the only organization in the United States offering an accreditation of LGBT Community Liaison programs.
Origin Of The Standards
These accreditation standards for LGBT Law Enforcement Community Liaison Programs were developed based on research conducted in 2020 by Out to Protect on existing liaison programs operating in law enforcement agencies around the United States. While we found there to be many programs, few of them had any written policies or procedures guiding them. We also found no formalized training for LGBT Liaisons.
In 2022, we developed an LGBT Liaison Academy in order to help agencies create and operate a liaison program based on the best practices we collected in our research. We also established the National LGBT Liaison Network and a leadership team comprised of experienced LGBT liaisons from around the country. We used this leadership team to validate a set of standards based on our research and best practices. These standards are the basis for this accreditation program.
The Purpose of Accreditation
Accreditation supports the tenets of procedural justice and bolsters the credibility and legitimacy of law enforcement in a community. Increasing credibility and legitimacy grows and strengthens trust between law enforcement and the people an agency serves.
The goal of this accreditation program is to encourage agencies to create LGBT liaison Programs based on what we know are best practices and to reward agencies who operate a program based on these standards. Accreditation provides credibility that contributes to the legitimacy of the liaison program and the law enforcement agency overall. We believe this contributes to an agency’s overall commitment to growing trust with the community.
The Accreditation Process
Any law enforcement agency in the United States is eligible to apply for accreditation of the agency’s LGBT Law Enforcement Community Liaison program. Applications must include evidence of how the agency has met the standards described in this document. The application and evidence shall be peer-reviewed by three members of the National LGBT Liaison Network Leadership Team. In addition, the peer review team will meet at least once with the agency’s LGBT Liaison. The goal is always to help the agency achieve accreditation.
Accreditation is valid for three years. An annual update is required to maintain accreditation. This annual update includes reporting on achievements and challenges of the previous year and submitting a 12-month action plan for the coming year.
Re-accreditation is required every three years and includes updating the full accreditation application. This application will be peer reviewed by three members of the National LGBT Liaison Network Leadership Team. A meeting with the agency’s LGBT Liaison may be requested at the discretion of the peer review team.
What Accredited Agencies Receive
Law enforcement agencies awarded accreditation will receive a plaque and certificate of accreditation for display in the law enforcement agency. The agency will be listed on a dedicated webpage on the Out to Protect website. Notice of accreditation will be shared on social media and a press release. Accredited agencies may also have access to decals and stickers that can be used to highlight the agency’s accreditation status within the community.
How to Apply for Accreditation
Agencies wishing to receive accreditation of their LGBT Law Enforcement Community Liaison Program must submit an application and evidence of how the agency is meeting each of the accreditation standards. The application fee is $500 for the initial accreditation and $500 to renew accreditation every three years. This fee includes the processing of annual updates. Fees can be submitted online via credit card.
We offer an Accreditation Guide to help agencies plan for submitting an application. This guide explains the peer review process and how applications are scored.
Download the Accreditation Program brochure.
Funding To Support Accreditation
Our partners at the United States Department of Justice COPS Office often provide mini-grants for law enforcement agencies interested in community engagement work that supports community policing in areas including: “officer recruitment, retention, and workforce diversification; underserved populations; building trust and legitimacy with the community; hate crimes and domestic terrorism; and community violence intervention.” LGBT Community Liaison programs do all of this and are ideal subjects for a mini-grant application. The costs of achieving accreditation can easily serve as a foundation for a grant proposal.
Grants cycles vary, so be sure to watch the US DOJ COPS website for funding opportunities.
If your agency’s budget cannot afford this fee and a grant from the US DOJC COPS Office is not available, consider partnering with an LGBTQ+ community organization willing to sponsor your program. Pride centers, PFLAG chapters, and even LGBTQ+ affirming churches make excellent community partners. A sponsorship like this one would be similar to those used to support K9 programs.