After months of protests and vigils for a string of transgender women killed in Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is holding a community forum Thursday about LGBT safety concerns.
Since February, four transgender women have been shot in Jacksonville, three of them fatally. The Northeast Florida deaths — plus one last month in Orlando — account for a quarter of the 16 transgender murders nationwide this year, as tracked by the Human Rights Campaign.
Advocates including Equality Florida’s Gina Duncan have been criticizing the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s handling of the cases since the first woman was shot in February.
“We need to see an LGBTQ advocacy officer on the ground interacting with this community so that there’s better communication, identification and solving of these murders that are still outstanding,” Duncan said at a City Hall press conference earlier this summer.
Criticisms include JSO’s publicly identifying the victims as men and using their legal names instead of their chosen names. JSO said it ID’s victims based on the medical examiner’s report. But many police departments handle IDs differently.
Recently a JSO news release about the most recent transgender victim referred to her as “a transgender victim” and listed several names she had used, a departure from previous notifications.
Advocates are also calling for JSO to require more officer training around transgender issues and amend its policies.
Thursday, Sheriff Mike Williams will address the LGBT community. On the agenda: the creation of a JSO-LGBT liaison team, which was announced at a City Council meeting last week.
In a emailed memo from JSO about the meeting it said the liaison team will “serve as a dedicated law enforcement conduit for LGBT community members, as well [as recommend] potential training programs for the agency.”
The purpose of the meeting is to create trust and confidence in law enforcement, the email said.
Advocacy groups scheduled to attend include Equality Florida, the Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network, Stiletto Sisters and the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality, according to a facebook event posted for the meeting.
The Sheriff’s Office LGBT forum is at 7 p.m at Florida State College at Jacksonville’s downtown campus in the auditorium.
Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at email@example.com, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.