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San Diego History Center LGBTQ Exhibit Leads To Law Enforcement Diversity Training

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It started with an exhibit on San Diego's LGBTQ history. With the help of San Diego Pride, it grew into a diversity training program for San Diego County sheriff's deputies.

Speaker 1: 00:00 What does a San Diego museum have to do with training deputies and other personnel from the San Diego County Sheriff's office? The answer begins with an exhibit at the San Diego history center on the history of San Diego's LGBTQ community and its struggle for civil rights. A conversation between a museum employee and San Diego sheriff. Bill Gore led to a training program, a cooperative effort between the history center San Diego pride, and the Sheriff's department. Joining me to talk more about this innovative program, our gym LA Barbara from San Diego pride and Jacob Hernandez from the Sheriff's department. Welcome to you both. Thank you for having us. Thank you for having us. June. I'd like to start with you. Can you tell us how pride got involved with this program and what that involvement entails? Sure. So we had a former board member who was involved with some of the trainings that law enforcement around San Diego have been engaged with, and so she connected us with the Sheriff's department. She knew that we provided these kinds of cultural competency trainings. And so we came in to provide the kind of LGBTQ one Oh one level of the trainings that the Sheriff's department has created in deputy Hernandez. You've been through the training. What was your expectation going into it and, and what are your feelings now that you've completed it?

Speaker 2: 01:18 I was a student of probably one of Jen's first students over a year ago now. I really had never seen any topic like this in my eight, almost nine years on the department. And I was really interested to see what exactly was that they were going to show us going through it very eyeopening. Uh, I born and raised in San Diego, didn't really see a lot of these things in the news. I learned a lot of the terminology that I could use on the job that may, that would be appropriate to use, uh, given the situation. And I feel like a lot of people learned a lot of things and a lot of, uh, tools for the, for the tool belt, if you will.

Speaker 1: 01:54 Yeah. And this is a question for both of you. Many of us go through training programs and they're usually held in a classroom setting. Um, tell us about the advantages of doing this training in the museum that's hosting the LGBTQ exhibit. Sure. So I think one of the things I've heard from the Sheriff's department and from their deputies is that it is really beneficial to get them out of their normal comfort zone of a training facility that they're used to into a museum in Balboa park. The added benefit of having the amazing LGBTQ history exhibit that's at the history center helps to kind of tie the whole thing together at the end of the training. So I'll provide the one Oh one the terminology, cultural context, gender identity, sexual orientation information. The Sheriff's office will provide kind of more the how it actually applies to their jobs. And then they'll go through the exhibit and all the pieces will kind of come together. And deputy Hernandez.

Speaker 2: 02:51 The advantage, I mean have you been on the department and gone through numerous trainings, hundreds of trainings and knowing that it was always going to be either eight hours of being at the firearms range or eight hours of sitting in a classroom, learning about various topics. This being a four hour training that we offer two sessions per day, a four hour training in a beautiful setting like Bobo park outside of the classroom, away from the range. Uh, really got our mind going as to what we were in store for and then having time, our own free time as part of the training to walk through the exhibit and learn things kind of at our own pace and read things that interested us. Uh, that was, that was probably the biggest benefit right there.

Speaker 1: 03:33 And deputy Hernandez, we know that the goal is to get all deputies to complete this training, but other members of the Sheriff's department are undergoing it as well. Can you tell me about that?

Speaker 2: 03:42 The goal for the Sheriff's department as of the fiscal year, beginning last year, um, October the training's began. The goal is to get all 1200, roughly 1200 detentions sworn deputies through the training in the next two years. So a total of three years to get 1200 of us through. Um, we're also working with different divisions that work within the jails and the detention facilities to complete having gotten all their staff in through that as well.

Speaker 1: 04:10 And Jen, tell us about the relationship between the LGBTQ community and law enforcement in general and how that relationship informed this training program. Sure. So the origin of the LGBTQ movement really started as a protest against state sanction police violence against the LGBTQ community. So we know that the relationship between LGBTQ folks and law enforcement is not always or often a positive one. And so we see this training as an opportunity to, towards that goal of accountability, right. The first step in holding our law enforcement institutions accountable for treating LGBTQ folks with respect and dignity is education and deputy Hernandez. What has been the reaction to the training you've heard from your colleagues in the department?

Speaker 2: 05:01 Everyone's always very, um, surprised by the information that was given. They didn't know that the department would, would offer something like that. Um, in a positive way. Like, like I said, we're used to spending eight hours at the range or eight hours learning, um, a new platform of a maybe a database or something like that. And we're always, it's always a pleasure to learn something new, to add something to our, to the repertoire of training. Uh, especially in being in San Diego, serving this community and addressing those, the issues that need to be addressed, um, across not only across the community to be across the department as well.

Speaker 1: 05:36 I'm also curious from both of you about the exhibit itself. Can you walk, walk me through it. What do you see and what type of emotion does it invoke from you? Sure. So the LGBTQ history exhibit at the history is really a full picture of San Diego's LGBTQ community. So it goes emotionally from really devastating acts in time periods of the AIDS crisis when we lost a whole generation of, of gay men mostly and trans women and goes through an ends kind of in a space of hope. And, and also the space of where we still need to go. Right. The fight is not over. And it gives us that opportunity to look back at how far we've come. Deputy Hernandez, when you, when you saw the exhibit,

Speaker 2: 06:25 how did you feel? I felt taken back by everything. I didn't know that that went on throughout so many years through the community that I grew up in. Uh, never knowing any of this happened and these, these seem, they were such huge, huge events and there were so many huge cornerstones, um, champions of the community that are finally showcased and all in one place. And to be able to go to one place and learn it all and, you know, add that to the things you know about and things that you can appreciate living in San Diego and working in San Diego, it was great.

Speaker 1: 06:55 I had been speaking with Jim LA Barbara from San Diego pride and deputy Jacob Hernandez of the San Diego County Sheriff's department. Thank you both very much for joining us. Thank you.

Speaker 3: 07:06 [inaudible].

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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.