RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond police have named a new LGBTQ liaison.
Capt. Michael Bender is taking on the role that originated in 2013, acting as the point-person for members of the LGBTQ community.
RPD confirmed Bender’s appointment in a press release, adding that that he is a "natural fit because he leads many of our outreach efforts.”
“We’re really grateful that the Richmond Police Department is continuing to invest in the role of the LGBTQ police liaison. It’s a critical role for our community," Virginia Pride president James Millner said.
Bender replaces Capt. Daniel Minton in the role after Minton became commander of the Fourth Precinct.
Millner said that in the past, police liaisons attend LGBTQ community events, while getting to know leaders within that community. According to Virginia State Police crime statistics, of all the reported hate crimes last year, anti-LGBTQ crimes accounted for 15 percent.
Millner said police liaisons are crucial as they help establish trust, while also providing advocacy for LGBTQ people within their city.
“There are many folks in our community who have a very legitimate reason to distrust police, and this liaison helps break down some of those barriers that exist, and we really feels its an important role," he said.
RPD adds that Capt. Bender will be present at events like community forums and community walks, and that people are welcome to “meet with him anonymously about LGBTQ concerns.”
Bender has been with RPD for 24 years and is commander of Community, Youth and Intervention Services Unit.
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