Last June, Nashville met its new—and only its second—Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) LGBTQ Liaison, Officer Nakia Reid. Reid replaced Catie Poole, who left the position upon her promotion, and quickly introduced herself to both the communities she’d serve as a connection between. The liaison’s role includes attending community meetings, being an advocate for both the MNPD and LGBTQ community members, and assuring that there are safe places to report hate crimes to the police department, among others.
A year later, we are checking back in with Officer Reid about how she feels about that first year and where she sees room for growth.
What was it like settling into the job of MNPD LGBTQ Liaison?
Reid: I like to think of the first year in any new position as [like building] the foundation of a house. If you place sturdy floors and walls around it while it’s being built, then the house cannot crumble down when you think you have it all put together. Then, I call it “home sweet home!”
I have been the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department LGBTQ Liaison for one year, and my first six months (foundation-building) in the position were great. The foundation for me was community engagement. I wanted to meet with community members to find out how the relationship between MNPD and the LGBTQ community was perceived, as well as to discuss what challenges we each are facing that is preventing trust between the two [sides].
I found out “the good, the bad, and the ugly” by having conversations with members of the community and keeping an open mind to what information was given and experiences individuals had with the police.
One of your early programs was the Safe Place Initiative… How has that gone?
Reid: In those first six months, several local businesses, schools (not excluding higher learning institutions), & places of worship have become participants of our Safe Place Initiative. That is a partnership with the business community & schools—they assist victims of hate crimes with calling the police and allowing the victim(s) to remain in their establishment until the police arrive.
Once a business, school, or place of worship consent to participate in the initiative, a decal, which depicts a police shield surrounding the colors that traditionally have symbolized the LGBTQ community, is visibly placed at the entrance on a door or window.
Currently, around Davidson County, we have 39 businesses participating in the Safe Place Initiative and are hoping more businesses and schools will participate as businesses start opening back up.
So, after that “foundation-building” period, how did things go?
Reid: My second six months (building those floors and sturdy walls) have been a bit more challenging than the first six months, due to Nashville’s March tornado, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the tragic death of George Floyd.
Being able to meet with the community to have open conversation about the current events and climate of our city & nation has not been easy. I am still figuring out how to adjust to virtual meetings, while talking on the phone, more, as I’m sure we all are trying to do.
My first virtual meeting I joined, my dog wouldn’t stop barking because the lawn man was outside, and I was so embarrassed!
With all of these barriers, what are your goals for the coming year?
Reid: My goals for the rest of 2020 is to continue to build relationships with the organizations and persons who have or will have a great impact on MNPD’s progress with the LGBTQ community, to be an advocate & resource for the community, to host virtual meetings with LGBTQ youth support groups with MNPS, to increase the number of Safe Place participants, to educate officers on using appropriate pronouns during interactions, and so much more!
Good to hear you aren’t being super ambitious with those goals, Officer Reid! We wish you all the best on this process!