The University of Kentucky Police Department has added two LGBTQ liaisons to help build relationships within the university community as a whole.
Officer Andy Elierston and Officer Holly Williams are the first two officers to hold this position. Both are openly gay, according to UKNow.
UK Office of Institutional Diversity LGBTQ* Resource Director Lance Poston said this idea came up through talks and conversations with UKPD to help improve safety and health on campus for underrepresented communities.
“Having liaisons for historically marginalized populations is important. It helps build bridges before we reach a place of tension,” Poston said.
Poston said that people in the LBTQ community and other generally marginalized groups are more at risk for harassment, and that there is a fear and worry that the police will react differently to them as opposed to other students.
Williams said she believes this position is important, as it gives people in the LGBTQ community an outlet to reach out and speak freely.
“I hope that I can better someone’s life and get things off their chest and become better people,” Williams said.
Williams said she wished she had something like this in college as she had the fear of coming out. She didn’t reveal her sexuality to her parents until after she graduated.
UK Police Chief Joe Monroe said one of the main reasons for the disconnect between underrepresented communities is lack of trust.
“We sometimes do not understand each other’s values and that’s why we have to have an open mind and to help build bridges between law enforcement and the community,” Monroe said.
Chief Monroe explained that the officers’ responsibilities and day-to-day duties as liaisons will be attending events that involve LGBTQ matters. But most importantly, they will open that door between law enforcement and the LGBTQ community here on campus.
More information about events with members of the LGBTQ* community can be found here.