Part of the NYPD’s latest recruitment drive is aimed at attracting LGBTQ cops to the force, marking the first time the department has launched an advertising effort to draw queer police officers.
The department is embarking on the new initiative following the rise of the NYPD’s new LGBTQ liaison, Sergeant Ana Arboleda, who took over the role after the retirement of Detective Carl Locke. In June, the NYPD and the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) — a group made up of queer cops — had announced a multi-pronged plan intended to make the department more LGBTQ-inclusive.
The recruitment effort includes advertisements touting diversity and promoting GOAL.
“Being a part of GOAL shows me that the NYPD values all officers equally,” reads an advertisement featuring a quote from a police officer named Officer Aguilar.
Another advertisement reads, “Be the change. See the impact you can make in the NYPD.” A different one says, “The NYPD is as diverse as New York is. It’s an honor to represent my community and city.”
Arboleda stressed that the LGBTQ recruitment campaign is just one piece of a broader recruitment bid. The NYPD, she said, is trying to recruit “all across” and “we’re not just targeting LGBTQ people.”
“From my point of view, obviously we’re going to try to recruit where I know people would hang out and be more prone to listen,” she said. “Right now, anybody that would have me talk to them about the NYPD and my experience gained in the police department — I want to be there. Take it to the streets and anywhere and everywhere.”
While the department is not pointing to any single motivating factor behind the recruitment effort, the initiative is emerging just months after Heritage of Pride imposed a ban on uniformed cops at their Pride festivities through at least 2025.
Whether the campaign will be successful is yet to be seen — and the department will have to contend with its strained relationship with the LGBTQ community dating back to before the Stonewall Uprising. LGBTQ individuals had long pushed for the NYPD to issue a formal apology for Stonewall — and in 2019, former Commissioner James O’Neill said the actions taken by police at Stonewall were “discriminatory and oppressive and for that, I apologize.”
And yet, by the following year, the NYPD came under fire when a demonstration starting at Stonewall ended with activists suffering multiple injuries after they were rounded up and arrested by police officers.
Those tensions boiled over again following the Reclaim Pride Coalition’s Queer Liberation March in June of this year when, for the second straight year, police officers were involved in a contentious scene at Washington Square Park that resulted in arrests and the mobilization of dozens of cops who stood under the Washington Square arch in riot gear. A helicopter buzzed above, dozens of police officers were stationed on bicycles, and there were rows of police vehicles on site, angering activists who had warned police to steer clear of their event.
“We can’t erase history,” Arboleda said, referring to the NYPD’s record of issues with the community. “We simply can’t erase it, so we have to acknowledge it and move forward. We are trying to make [the department] more diverse and make a better police department for tomorrow.”
Arboleda leads an LGBTQ advisory panel consisting of civilians who examine policies and provide recommendations on how to improve the NYPD from a community standpoint. That group, she said, is supportive of her recruitment efforts.
Among the department’s other recent changes geared towards the LGBTQ community include a policy allowing employees to self-report information on sexual orientation and gender identity, the addition of seven uniformed members to the Community Affairs LGBTQ Outreach Unit, the designation of personnel who can work directly with queer employees, expanded training, and more LGBTQ representation in the department’s Hate Crime Task Force. The changes came to fruition through a working group led by the NYPD’s Office of Equity and Inclusion, GOAL, the department’s LGBTQ liaison, and others.