Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images
© 2023 Blaze Media LLC. All rights reserved.
The Milwaukee Police Department announced Wednesday that it would no longer share a victim's gender in order to avoid so-called "misgendering" after pressure from LGBT activists.
During the same announcement, the department also noted it would no longer list a victim's race. The policy changes only apply to information released "proactively." It will not impact open records or crime statistics. The policy will also not apply to crime suspects.
The MPD's chief of staff, Heather Hough, called the policy change "a way to preserve the dignity and privacy of all victims."
"MPD wants to ensure the best service possible for our entire community," Hough added.
Earlier this year, Milwaukee Police Department's LGBTQ liaison Sgt. Guadalupe Velasquez requested the policy change after the department released a report in 2022 that "misgendered" three transgender-identifying individuals who were killed in the city.
"We don't want to make a traumatic experience for a family worse," Velasquez told TMJ4.
When asked whether the department's previous "misgendering" of trans-identifying victims has "hurt the LGBTQ community," Velasquez replied, "Based on the conversations I had, yes."
"It was something that was a topic that led to some uncomfortable conversations for me where some of the organizations were like, we're not willing to work with the police department because clearly, you don't have respect for us," she told the news outlet.
Velasquez explained that a victim's gender is "not always readily available" because "we don't always have somebody on scene to make sure that we're getting it right."
"I think this is a way to make sure that the department doesn't get it wrong," she told TMJ4 in reference to the new policy. Velasquez believes the policy will build trust with the LGBT community and further the department's inclusivity goals.
Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, called the policy a "terrible idea" and argued that the public has a right to know about victim demographics.
Lueders told Fox News Digital, "It is troubling that the knee-jerk response to so many perceived problems is to block access to information."
"Does the public really not have a right to know if minorities, for instance, are disproportionately victims of crime?" Lueders questioned. "Does it not have the right to know if people are being killed because of their gender?"
University of Wisconsin-Madison's journalism school director, Kathleen Bartzen Culver, echoed similar concerns.
Bartzen Culver told TMJ4, "Are women more at risk to be crime victims? Are men more at risk? Are transgender folks more at risk? So those longer-term stories, that's where we definitely need to be able to dive into the data and look for trends, look for things that ought to concern us as citizens."
Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!
Want to leave a tip?
We answer to you. Help keep our content free of advertisers and big tech censorship by leaving a tip today.
Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.