With all the serious concern about insensitivity in law enforcement across the country, we wanted to share a little good news coming out of New England’s finest. GOAL (Gay Officers Action League) of New England turns 25 next year. True enough, the issues of police relations and minority communities, perhaps especially in the inner cities, are not exactly the same as those of law enforcement and the LGBT community these days—at least here in Boston—but, um, remember Stonewall?
If you don’t know about GOAL, here’s some background from its mission statement:
‘[GOAL] was formed in 1991 by Officer Preston Horton of the Northampton, MA Police Department and currently a Sgt. with the MBTA Police Department as well as other officers. Officer Horton had been working with GOAL New York (which was founded in 1982), and decided to form a chapter for criminal justice professionals in New England. What began as a group of four police officers has grown into a large and thriving organization comprised of members from throughout New England.
GOAL New England is based upon the principles of being a social and community organization comprised of present and former criminal justice, corrections, firefighting service, EMS, and military personnel. It functions as a support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender sworn public safety officers as well as civilian employees of federal, state and local agencies.’
And GOAL aims to take care of more than only their own:
‘[GOAL] provides comprehensive training for police officers and other criminal justice professionals in an effort to enhance the knowledge of Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, and Transgender (GLBT) issues and laws. … The history of GOAL/NE’s diversity training dates back to the early 1990’s. We have trained officers in police academies across New England including such departments as the Massachusetts State Police, Connecticut State Police, Boston Police, Providence Police, MBTA Police, New Haven Police and other Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Centers. The training has also been provided to numerous college campus police departments, probation departments and other higher learning communities. …
GOAL-NE is a very well-respected organization attempting to bridge the gap between police departments and the GLBT community. Our training offers information and resources that is community policing-based and is essential for every department as all agencies police the GLBT community.’
GOAL may not celebrate its 25th anniversary until it hosts a gala celebration and banquet on April 9, 2016. But we can celebrate them right now. Events coming up a little sooner on GOAL’s calendar include the Boston Pride Parade on June 13, Portland, Maine’s Pride on June 20, a Provincetown’s Carnival event at the Boatslip Resort on August 21, and Vermont State Pride on September 13. We’ve sure come a long way since Stonewall.