Mexico City got its first openly gay commanding officer after Javier Berain took office earlier this month as the police department’s new general director of transit policing.
Berain has 800 officers under his command.
Berain told the newspaper Milenio that it was an honor to be the first openly gay person trained to take on a command position on on the city’s police force. He also pointed out that it was a particular victory for the LGBT+ community because in the past “the police were precisely the instrument that fomented discrimination and the repression of sexual dissidence in this city.”
“I’m honored … to go from activism in which we asked that they stop oppressing us to commanding and being in charge of the leadership of an institution once used to oppress [us],” Berain said.
Berain took the job on December 10, the day after he graduated from the police department’s officer training academy, a ceremony in which he was personally congratulated by Police Chief Omar García Harfuch.
“He has a firm, unwavering commitment to making any upstanding citizen from the LGBT+ community part of the police force if they have the call to service,” Berain said of García. “They always will be welcome.”
On his Twitter account on December 9, García congratulated Berain, saying, “Your integrity will give rapid results in this area that we are restructuring.”
Asked if his appointment meant that machismo and discrimination had been eliminated in the city’s governmental institutions, Berain pointed to the advances they have made in the last few decades.
“We’ve advanced pretty well as institutions compared to 20–30 years ago,” Berain said. “Now there’s not open discrimination. I’m not going to lose my job for being homosexual. That would have happened 30 or 40 years ago.”
He had never experienced discrimination personally, he said, although he added that he couldn’t speak for the 70,000 people who work with him on the force.
Berain stopped short of painting a completely rosy picture for the LGBT+ community and for women in the city’s government institutions, saying that discrimination and “macho microaggressions” still exist, but they push minority groups to keep fighting to end discrimination.
But he did say that he believed members of the LGBT+ community should feel safe when reporting a crime to the city’s police department.
“The [police department] attends to everyone equally, independent of their sexual preference or gender identity,” he said. “In addition, members of the community may need special attention and for that there are protocols within the institution and we have the special unit for sexual diversity, simply to avoid situations of revictimization and fitting service for those who need it.”
Berain told Milenio that he felt certain he has the respect of the officers under his command.
“But the most important thing for them is that we give them the tools to do their job effectively,” he said.
Source: Milenio (sp)