By Devin Fehely

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — The San Jose Police Department has unveiled a brand-new policy aimed at ensuring members of the LGBTQ community are treated with respect by its officers.

The new policy is meant to heal what has often been a tense relationship between law enforcement and the LGBTQ community.

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“These are issues that are complex. And we’re expecting our officers to be competent in these areas. And this gives them a guide and some instruction on how to interact appropriately,” says Officer James Gonzales, a liaison officer to the LGBTQ community.

Under the new policy, the police department will provide mandatory sensitivity training to all of its officers. Additionally, officers will be required to address individuals by their preferred name and gender pronoun. Lastly, officers will be instructed to reflect those name and gender pronoun choices in their official written police reports.

“Being able to respect someone’s identity is paramount,” say Sera Fernando, a transgender activist who works for Santa Clara County.

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“For the the San Jose Police Department, it’s a good step forward in being able to respect someone’s name, their identity and gender pronouns. It insures that they don’t get mistreated.” Fernando said.

The police department says they developed the new guidelines and policy in collaboration with members of the LGBTQ community.

“I made that decision to come out and it was met with open arms from everyone,” says Officer Edward Carboni. Officer Carboni joined SJPD in 2014 and came out to his colleagues in 2017. He says he’s proud the department is leading on LGBTQ issues.

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“Putting it in writing reinforces and reaffirms that we’re here to do the right thing. We’re part of the community. We understand how the community works. And we’re here to protect them,” says Officer Carboni.