ITHACA, N.Y. –– The Ithaca Police Department has announced that Officer Mary Orsaio will step into the newly-created position of IPD ‘LGBTQ Liaison.’ 

According to a press release, “the purpose of the Ithaca Police Department’s LGBTQ Liaison is to strengthen the relationship between the LGBTQ community and the Police Department. By establishing an ongoing dialogue, the Liaison hears directly from community members about concerns, works collaboratively with the community to identify solutions, and educates about recommended safety measures and available resources.”

The press release outlines the mission of IPD’s LGBTQ Liaison as follows:

  • To foster positive relationships between the LGBTQ community and the Ithaca Police Department by providing a liaison for community members who may be victims of crime, or otherwise in need of services.
  • To assist in productive dialogue with patrol, Community Policing and various investigative units concerning LGBTQ related crimes through diversity and sensitivity training.
  • To work in partnership with other City agencies, other law enforcement entities, and community-based organizations by conducting community outreach, education, and involvement in other LGBTQ related issues.
  • To encourage the respectful exchange of mutual support among LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ Officers in the areas of equal opportunity in recruitment, hiring, retention, discipline, promotion, and benefits.
  • To create a safe, secure, and non-hostile work environment in which LGBTQ Officers are supported and mentored through the challenge of “coming out” in the workplace.   

Officer Orsaio said that she plans to achieve that purpose through recruiting LGBTQ officers, advocating for victims of hate crimes and educating her fellow officers on how to better serve the LGBTQ community. Orsaio also said she will available to the community, and open to feedback.

“I’ll be attending a lot of meetings to serve as an advocate, so if certain community members or community groups feel as though we’re not doing something right or we have some issues that we need to work on, or some things they want to see us doing to help the community –– I could bring that back here,” Orsaio said.

Orsaio said LGBTQ Liason positions have been a trend throughout the country, and she has been researching ways to implement new practices.

“Seattle has a liaison and San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale,” she said. “So I’ve been doing a lot of research about what they’ve been doing and what things they’ve accomplished.”

There have already been some inclusionary efforts put forth in the department by Orsaio. She put a safe space sticker on the front door of the department headquarters, and taught a class on proper pronouns.

She is excited to move the Ithaca Police Department towards the goal of building a stronger relationship with the LGBTQ community.

“I have traditionally done a lot of community policing, served a lot of community boards, for two years I was a commons officer,” Orsaio said. “So when (Chief Nayor) approached me about it, I was super interested and I was honored to take it.”

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com