Seattle’s first openly trans cop aims to build trust with transgender community

Officer Tori Newburn is hoping to bridge the divide between police and the transgender community


By PoliceOne Staff

SEATTLE — The Seattle Police Department has been working on making the community a safer place for the transgender population. Through new police training and updated policies, the agency is aiming to reduce crimes in the LGBTQ community. 

Crimes against transgender people often go underreported due to the lack of trust with police. The number of transgender homicide victims rose from 21 in 2015 to 26 in 2016, according to VICE News.
 
But Officer Tori Newburn, the force’s first openly transgender officer, hopes to be a liaison between police and the transgender community. 

“I didn’t always know I wanted to be a cop,” Newburn, 32, told WMCH. “I don’t know if it found me or if I found it.”

Newburn joined the force in 2014 as a male, but didn’t start telling co-workers about the transition until last May. 

The reaction from his colleagues was overwhelmingly positive. 

“Wow, somebody that actually reflects the community we serve,” Officer Yusef Jibril told Vice News

Seattle has the fifth largest LGBTQ community in the United States, and crimes against trans people often go unsolved. 

“There’s things going on here and we need a way to communicate with the police, we need a way to communicate with each other, to keep each other safe,” Shaun Knittel, Associate Editor of Seattle Gay News, said.

The department created a “Safe Place” program to encourage victims and the community to come forward if they have issues. 

For the past two years, businesses have volunteered to be a safe place for LGBTQ people to wait after they call 911 to report a crime, Vice reported. 

Newburn said it’s a long process to earn trust back when it’s been broken in the past, but his hope in coming out is to “be another layer of building that [trust] bridge.”

Check out Vice’s profile on Newburn, below: 

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