DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham police introduced a new position to their department that they hope will build stronger ties and relationships to the LGBTQ community.
Last week the streets were filled with members of the LGBTQ community in Durham for the pride parade.
That is when Officer Charles Strickland was officially announced as the LGBTQ community liaison.
“I think it’s wonderful that we have a liaisons and our particular liaison is a member of our community which is even better,” said Lisa Rhodes.
Lisa Rhodes is a volunteer with the LGBTQ community center in Durham. She says the new role is something the community needs.
“Making sure that we are safe, just like everyone else wants to be. The problem is we’re not like everyone else; some people hate us for who we are,” said Rhodes.
Strickland says as a gay man he knows what it’s like to be discriminated against.
“It can never hurt to have somebody who can identify with their struggle and say, ‘Hey I’ve been there, I know what you’re going through’,” Strickland said.
Strickland has been in law enforcement for ten years. He says he became an officer to help people.
Now he will be the direct source for the LGBTQ community to the police department. He says he’ll be able to provide resources that other officers may not, or just be there for someone in need who may be afraid to call 911.
“It’s validating, it shows inclusiveness in the department,” said Strickland
And Rhodes says after years of distrust between the LGBTQ community and police this is something that will help build stronger relationships.
“We need police like everyone needs police and sometimes we need them more, and it’s wonderful to know we can reach out and find a member of our LGBT family who is there for us,” said Rhodes.
Strickland says this is a new role and it is still in the planning stages, but he says he plans to work alongside the community especially the LGBTQ center.