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SAPD promises justice in transgender sex assault, question of training unanswered


Greg Harman
gharman@sacurrent.com

One week after a local trans-gendered woman, described in the arrest warrant as a “Latin Male,” walked into the South Frio police sub-station alleging she had been raped by a San Antonio Police officer, SAPD Chief Bill McManus and two officers met with members of the San Antonio Gender Association pledging to take swift action on the case and work to prevent future assaults.

However, there was no talk about expanding transgender sensitivity training to veteran officers at the Thursday night meeting. Currently, only incoming SAPD cadets receive the four-hour training on transgender issues.

After nearly three years of quarterly trainings by the all-volunteer Police Officers Training Committee, only one session for more senior officers has been held. That meeting exposed innate prejudices among officers, according to training committee member Antonia Padilla, which she attributes to negative interactions with transgender individuals on the job that are likely exacerbated by a lack of exposure to those with less traditional gender expression.

They’re prejudices not typically found among the younger cadets, she added.

The trainings include a definition of terms, brainstorming about stereotypes, and breakout discussion groups. “It’s in these small discussion groups that the tensions in the veteran officers became apparent,” Padilla said. “Most everyone expressed some sort of, ‘Hey we’ve been cops for years and we know what it’s about. We have to deal with it on a daily basis. It’s not pretty and we don’t like it. We just wish it would go away’ is basically what they were saying.”

One officer in particular kept referring to transgendered individuals as a “subset,” Padilla said. “He was saying subset like every 30 seconds. ‘Oh, you’re in a subset this and you’re subset.' I felt, and this is just my opinion, I felt he was actually instead of saying subset he really wanted to say sub-human. I really had to sit on my hands with that guy.

“Just the very fact they feel that way when dealing with someone is going to cause them to have less empathy, or even no empathy, and to feel like, ‘They don’t really matter. They’re not important. And we don’t have to offer them the same level of civil protections … We’ll just treat them as less than human and it’s OK and nobody’s gonna care,” Padilla said.

Officer Craig Nash, arrested on charges of sexual assault and official oppression in the alleged rape, is a seven-year veteran officer.

Nash was arrested the same day a transgendered woman walked into the Frio Street substation at 4:20 am February 25 saying she had been abducted by an SAPD officer and raped, according to Nash’s arrest warrant affidavit. She told an officer on duty that her assailant, later identified as Nash, “wasn’t going to get away with this” and “she ‘had cum up her butt’ which would prove her truthfulness.”

The victim said Nash handcuffed her and took her to an unknown location, where he demanded a blowjob. She complied. Then she said he raped her while in uniform.

After the alleged incident, the woman took the bus to the South Frio substation to make her complaint and was quickly taken to Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital for an examination. At the hospital,  “suspected DNA” was collected from the victim’s body and clothing. A search of GPS logs confirmed the vehicle assigned to Nash was in the area reported.

SAPD media officer requested the Current submit its questions about last week’s meeting in writing, but a promised interview didn’t materialize before press deadline Tuesday.

Reverend Mick Hinson of Metropolitan Community Church, whose church hosted the forum and who serves on the training committee, said he hoped the trainings would one day expand to all SAPD officers and the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department, but he did not want to comment on them for publication out of fear that potential negative public reaction would jeopardize their continuation. The Current agreed at the start of the trainings in 2007 to delay reporting about them until they got more established at SAPD.

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UPDATE: Ruby Krebs, president of SAGA, got hold of us (1:50 pm) and offered glowing words for Chief McManus, saying that just the fact he showed up to a SAGA meeting made it "a very good day for the transgender community" in San Antonio. She added that, "10 years ago if we got any response at all from the chief of police it would have been hostile."

Below are the questions and answers we received back from SAPD about an hour after deadline today (making this truly an "online exclusive," as it's too late for print edition).

 Our goal at SAPD is to regard all citizens with fairness and professionalism regardless of gender.   We strive for a better understanding of all communities to enhance the quality of life throughout.   The GLBT community has a dedicated line of communication to voice any concerns and we look forward to continuing our close relationship and working with them in the future. 
 
Who participated in last Thursday's meeting at MCC church and what topics were discussed? 
  Chief William McManus and Deputy Chief Jose Banales, Commander of the Investigations Division.

How does SAPD maintain relationship with trans-gender community in SA? 
   Chief McManus has worked closely with the trans-gender community and will continue to do so.  Our goal is to have a better understanding of the GLBT community. SAPD has dedicated Deputy Chief Banales as liaison between SAPD and the LGBT community to maintain our relationship and provide a source for their concerns, bridging any gaps.

How often are officer sensitivity trainings held? How many officers have received this training? 
 Sensitivity training is included in the S.A.P.D. Cadet curriculum that includes verbal presentation and a small group discussion with a panel from the GLBT community.

My understanding is that this training is only required for new cadets entering the force. Is that correct? 
  A 4-hour training block is offered to cadets.

Given this incident involves a more senior officer, is the department willing to commit to expanding those trainings beyond cadets to include all SAPD officers? 
    The State mandates certain portions of  SAPD's in-service training, SAPD  strives to provide the best possible training for it's officer's and cadets, this would include bringing in a member from the transgender community to help us with this aspect. 

Are there any changes in policies or procedures being considered or implemented in light of this and other similar incidents?
      All aspects of training are constantly reviewed to expose our officers to the most updated information possible.

Posted by gharman on 3/9/2010 1:14:32 PM
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