The Cambridge Police Department (CPD) has announced that it plans to begin actively recruiting gay and lesbian officers. Frank T. Pasquarello, an aide to the commissioner, said, "We want the gay and lesbian communities to know that they are welcome at the Cambridge Police Department."
We could not be happier that the Cambridge Police want to welcome the queer community with open arms. This is a step forward in the battle for acceptance of homosexuals in America.
We do have two concerns with the new program, however. First, gays may come to serve merely as symbols for the department. That is, if sexual orientation becomes a determining factor in the recruitment of officers, new gay officers could well become "tokens," somehow proving that the Cambridge Police Department is friendly to gays. But simply having gays on staff does not mean that everything is o.k. In order for gays to feel comfortable in any police department, we feel that a genuine desire to accept the queer community must be felt, the proof of which only time will determine.
Second, we are concerned about what forms this recruiting will take. We hope that the CPD defines its program carefully, insuring that it doesn't let it slip from an attempt to recruit gays to a program which weighs sexual orientation early in the process. In other words, we do not care whether or not an officer is openly gay as long as he or she is doing the job well. While it is important that "our police department reflect [the] community," it is equally important that our police department treat all officers equitably, regardless of their sexual orientation.
As long as actively recruiting gays does not come at the expense of quality, and newly recruited gay officers do not wear their "gayness" as badges, we fully support the new program.