Atlanta police name gay advisory board members

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The Atlanta Police Department on Tuesday announced the nine members of its gay and lesbian advisory board, putting in place a panel that the agency hopes will help improve relations with the city’s gay residents that soured in the wake of the Eagle raid last September.

The nine members, culled from dozens of applications received since Atlanta police asked for nominations in July, include a cross-section of business owners, community activists, non-profit leaders and a member of the clergy.

“One of my priorities on becoming chief was to repair the relationships and build the trust we had lost in various communities over the years,” Atlanta Police Chief George Turner (top photo. left) says in a press release announcing the panel. “We recognize the importance of the GLBT community all over Atlanta, and want to make sure we are listening to their concerns. We hope they can help us become a smarter department, and together work to create a safer city for all.”

Atlanta police moved to create the panel after the idea surfaced in May during a public meeting with LGBT activists, non-profit leaders and the media to introduce the agency’s latest LGBT liaison, Officer Patricia Powell. Since then, the agency has faced a formal complaint from longtime LGBT liaison Officer Dani Lee Harris and placed her on leave, a call for sanctions against some officers involved in the Eagle raid, an internal investigation into the raid that has lasted nearly a year, a federal lawsuit over the action, and continued questions over how it uses its LGBT liaisons.

But Turner, Powell and other department brass faced critics during an LGBT town hall meeting in July, and the department has used Powell in recent investigations. The agency also admitted to not following its own operating policies in how it had previously deployed its LGBT liaisons.

imagePowell (second photo) says the new panel–formally named the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgendered (GLBT) Advisory Board–will help continue recent efforts from the department to improve its relationship with LGBT residents.

“I’m proud of the group we’ve put together,” Powell says in a press release. “The response from the community to serve on this board has been overwhelming. I heard from many conscientious, bright and accomplished Atlantans wanting to give their time. It wasn’t easy making these selections, but I believe we have a group that will take their positions seriously, and work diligently and earnestly with the APD.”

The board will hold its first meeting Sept. 20. All meetings will be open to the public, Atlanta police say.

Mayor Kasim Reed (top photo, right), who has faced continued criticism over the raid and his comments about the federal lawsuit, calls the board “a step in the right direction.”

“Atlanta has a vibrant, caring and active GLBT community–and I have pledged to make sure that our Police Department is well-trained to respect their unique needs,” Reed says in the press release. “I firmly believe this is a step in the right direction–but by no means is it the end of our work. It is just the beginning.”

Members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgendered Advisory Board

Ebonee Bradford Barnes. Business owner and grassroots GLBT activist. Founder of Sunshine Productions, an events coordinating and fundraising company. She is vice president of In The Life Atlanta and a member of the Board of Governors of Diversity and Inclusion for the Human Rights Campaign.

Betty Couvertier. Activist/Community Organizer and Producer of WRFG Radio’s “Alternative Perspectives,” a program about the GLBT community and its allies. Couvertier has been involved in a number of organizations over the years, including the Human Rights Campaign, Georgians Against Discrimination and the Atlanta Pride Festival Committee.

Tracy L. Elliott. Executive Director of AID Atlanta since April, 2007. Elliot is currently on the board of the Southern AIDS Coalition and the Harvard Club of Georgia, and he is a graduate of the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2009. Elliot has also served as a bank vice president and division head for 13 years.

Glen Paul Freedman. Executive Assistant to the Honorable Lisa M. Borders, President of the Grady Health Foundation. Freedman currently serves on the board of directors and has served as the past president of the Atlanta Gay/Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and the Atlanta Pride Committee.

Tracee McDaniel. Transgender advocate, founder and executive director of the Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, Inc. McDaniel is a certified peer counselor and certified HIV/AIDS Risk/Reduction Prevention Pre & Post-test Counselor. She has been involved in a variety of organizations, including serving on the Atlanta Pride Committee board of directors, the Human Rights Campaign Diversity Committee and the board of directors for Someone Cares, Inc.

Terence McPhaul. Executive Director and CEO of Youth Pride. McPhaul has a host of knowledge and certification in HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and mental health counseling. He has also been an adjunct professor in the psychology and organizational management and leadership departments at Morris Brown, Spelman and Clark Atlanta universities.

Joshua M. Noblitt. Minister of Social Justice at Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Midtown. Noblitt also serves as a mitigation specialist at the Federal Defender Program, Inc. for the Northern District of Georgia. He has also served on various boards and organizational leadership teams, including the board of directors for the Reconciling Ministry Network, an organization dedicated to full inclusion for GLBT people in the United Methodist Church both in policy and practice. Noblitt was attacked in Piedmont Park in July.

Philip Rafshoon. Founder, owner and operator of Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse since 1993. Rafshoon is involved in a broad range of community and political organizations. He has received numerous awards over the years including the Human Rights Campaign Community Leadership award and two Atlanta Phoenix awards. Rafshoon served as a corporate co-chair of the 2004 AIDS Walk Atlanta and received the Community Service Award from AID Atlanta in the same year.

Molly Simmons. Emory School of Law graduate and Assistant Vice-President of Legal Services and Ethics, Privacy & Compliance Officer for Chamberlin Edmonds, an Atlanta-based company providing patient advocacy-based eligibility and enrollment services for its clients. Simmons is also a former DeKalb County Police patrol officer who won Officer of the Month in February 2000.


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