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Cops create committee to analyze LGBT bias

As a pair of attacks on transgender individuals in Queens linger in the minds of Queens activists, city officials have decided to establish a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advisory committee in the city Police Department.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly met last week and agreed such a committee “is of vital importance to the NYPD, the city and the continued safety of LGBT New Yorkers across the five boroughs,” Quinn’s office said.

The conversation was not directly due to the recent transgender attacks in Queens, which occurred in Jackson Heights and St. Albans, officials said.

Kelly directed the police officer assigned to his office as LGBT liaison to reactivate the committee.

The committee would follow in the footsteps of the Office of Lesbian and Gay Concerns, created in 1990 under Mayor David Dinkins and eliminated in a cost-cutting measure in 1994 by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

“This important step taken by the commissioner will allow for the public safety concerns of LGBT New Yorkers to be registered fairly and thoroughly at the highest levels of the department,” Quinn said in a statement. “Working with the NYPD’s LGBT community liaison, I believe that this committee will help strengthen the working relationship between the NYPD and the LGBT community and help ensure the safety of all New Yorkers.”

In a statement, Kelly called the LGBT advisory committee “an important bridge and communications vehicle between the police and the LGBT community.”

The committee would presumably address issues like the June 19 attack on Jackson Heights resident Leslie Mora, a transgender person who was allegedly beaten with a belt buckle by Woodside residents Gilberto Ortiz, 32, and Trinidad Tapia, 19, according to a criminal complaint filed by the DA’s office.

Michael Silverman, Mora’s attorney, said the men repeatedly called Mora “faggot” and did not stop beating her until a passing motorist threatened to call police. The criminal complaint does not mention gay slurs.

Both men were arrested and charged with assault and weapons possession. They were released on their own recognizance and scheduled to return to court Sept 14. No hate crime charges have been filed.

Hate crime charges were filed in the July 8 attack on a transgender woman by two men on the streets of St. Albans. Rasheed Thomas, 22, of Jamaica, and Nathaniel Sims, 25, of the Bronx, face charges the include assault as a hate crime, menacing as a hate crime and harassment, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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