The Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) announced Wednesday that it will no longer “proactively” mention the gender or race of crime victims in media releases, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
MPD created the policy after meeting with Diverse and Resilient, a local LGBTQ activist group, in response to officers who had “misgendered” three victims who identified as transgender women, according to the Sentinel. The department chose to institute the policy because it claimed the information was not necessary for the public to know and stated that it did not want to make “a traumatic experience” worse, TMJ4-NBC reported.
“MPD came to the decision to no longer proactively report out gender or race of victims to preserve the privacy and integrity of all victims,” MPD told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. “The decision was made after careful discernment of information received both from the LGBTQIA+ community and our members. . . This particular topic was discussed with the community. MPD wants to ensure the best service possible for our entire community.”
LGBTQ activists praised the move as an “absolute necessity,” and said it would prevent “disrespect” of the victim by officers or the public, according to the Sentinel.
“I have listened to countless trans sisters worry about how they will be identified upon their death. That’s harm, that’s trauma,” Justin Roby, a staff member at Diverse and Resilient, told the Sentinel. “They are worried that, after all of the work that they’ve done to accept themselves … at their death, they’d be disrespected.”
But some media outlets protested the announcement as a violation of the public’s right to know, Fox News reported. Members use gender and race statistics to get a full picture of what is happening in their community, and journalists often report on those statistics to show if minorities are being disproportionately targeted.
“[I]t is troubling that the knee-jerk response to so many perceived problems is to block access to information,” Bill Lueders, the president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, told Fox News. “The public has a right to know basic demographic information about victims of crime.”
“At the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, we take great care to report stories about crime and public safety with context and sensitivity. To do this, we need to be able to identify trends and provide a full picture of what is happening in our community,” editor Greg Borowski said, according to the Sentinel. “[I]f there are concerns about bad information being released, the best remedy is to assure that only solid information is released — not to put up new barriers that make it harder for the public to know what is happening in their neighborhoods and throughout the community.”
Members of the public can still access gender and race information if they file requests for the data through the department, although the results could take days to process, according to the Sentinel.
The Milwaukee Police LGBTQ+ Liaison did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.Republished with permission from The Daily Caller News Foundation.