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Creating Trans-Respectful Spaces in Law Enforcement
Lead by Example
Erika Anne Laurentz, J.D., Beth Rietema, WA Dept. of Corrections, and James Ritter, Seattle PD
Workshop Block 3: Saturday, October 21 - 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Cis-normative procedures create serious problems for trans and gender non-conforming people in many organizations, including in law enforcement. The panel discusses the challenges and successes of creating trans-inclusive procedures in three agencies: Olympia PD, Seattle PD, and the WA Department of Corrections. Using Department of Justice legal briefs, relevant court decisions, and the Prison Rape Elimination Act, the panelists successfully changed procedures to respectfully support transgender people interacting with and within the criminal justice system. The panel provides a model for creating change in organizations where cis-normative procedures create barriers to transgender and gender non-conforming people.
Erika Laurentz, a trans feminine activist, worked for nearly a decade as a patrol officer and detective. She attended law school and worked as both a defense attorney and prosecutor. More recently, she served as the department chair of a community college criminal justice program. Erika worked with Olympia PD to create one of the most respectful set of transgender procedures for patrol officers and corrections officers in the country. She used that success to begin a similar conversation with the WA DOC. Together with another trans fem activist, Erika produced and delivered the first trans competency training for officers and staff at a regional WA DOC facility.
Beth Rietema, a former corrections officer and passionate trans ally, is the Diversity and Inclusion Consultant for the Southwest region of the WA DOC. From her first discussions with Erika, Beth worked tirelessly to overcome institutional obstacles and to ensure that the department’s trans competency training was a success. She currently serves as a senior administrator at a Washington State corrections facility.
Jim Ritter, an openly gay Seattle PD police officer, serves as the department’s lead LGBT Liaison Officer. Jim has a history of launching innovative and successful programs that support the LGBT community. Recently, he produced a trans competency training video that has been adopted by agencies in the US and Canada. Jim led the effort to modernize Seattle PD’s procedures for respectfully working with transgender people.