The Austin Police Department will begin implementing a new policy concerning how it identifies transgender and gender-nonconforming crime victims.
The policy comes in response to the murder of Monica Loera, a transgender woman, in North Austin in January 2016. In the information released by APD on her murder, Loera was identified only as David Loera, the name on her legal documents.
“The lack of us identifying her as everybody else in the community knew her delayed a lot of people in the community being able to understand and realize that she had been the victim of the crime,” said APD Sgt. Michael Crumrine, who also serves as president of the Austin Lesbian & Gay Peace Officers Association.
Crumrine presented the department’s new policy to Public Safety Commissioners on Tuesday.
This policy, which takes effect in April, leaves off victims’ names from probable search affidavits – often the first public document filed once a crime has happened. Additionally, the policy concedes that while the department is legally bound to use a victim’s legal name in certain portions of a police report, the narrative section, where officers record the details of the crime and how it took place, will include a victim’s adopted name and pronoun.
“We will note what their preferred name and preferred pronouns are so that a detective or another investigator who is working a case knows [how] to be respectful in moving forward,” Crumrine told commissioners.
The policy also asks the department to educate officers on how to respectfully interact with members of the transgender and gender-nonconforming community.
In May, city council members asked APD to begin meeting with a committee of community groups, including the Transgender Education Network of Texas and Equality Texas, with the intent of devising a new policy on how to identify transgender and gender-conforming people in police documents. Together, committee members developed the department’s new policy.
Council Member Greg Casar, who represents the part of Austin where Loera was killed, sponsored the item.
“Because I know and many of us know that most transgender folks and gender-nonconforming people fight their entire lives to be recognized for who they are, I think we should’ve done much better in Monica’s case to make sure she got the respect that she deserved in her death,” he said last May.