5 questions with Shelley Knight
Shelley Knight was recently appointed to be liaison to the LGBT community for the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department. An 18-year veteran of the department, she recently took over the liaison position from Chief Jesse Flores and is the first openly gay person in that position. She is the department’s senior sergeant for planning and research.
How did you become interested in law enforcement?
I have always been interested in law enforcement. When I was little I would pretend to be a cop and arrest all of my friends for being bank robbers. I joined the Marines 10 days after graduation from high school, attended basic training and then was in school in Millington, Tenn., for air traffic control. I served 11 months and was kicked out for being gay. After I was discharged from the Marine Corps I found my chance to be the real thing.
What are your regular duties in the sheriff’s department?
I am assigned to the Strategic Planning and Research Division. This makes me responsible for creating, revising and correcting the policies and procedures for the Dallas Sheriff’s Department. I teach classes on cultural diversity and code of conduct, and I coordinate community events for the department such as the Kids and Cops program and career days at local schools.
As liaison to the LGBT community, who will you be working with?
As liaison, I will be working all over Dallas County. This includes the unincorporated areas of the county, cities within the county, and any issues relating to the jail and housing LGBT prisoners. Transgenders are given their choice of where to be housed. Where they are in transition, though, limits what we can do. We have homosexual tanks but you have to ask to be placed there for fear of something happening. I haven’t heard of any problems since taking this position in March, but I’m available in case any issues arise.
How did you take over the position of liaison from Chief Flores?
I made a request to the Sheriff and Chief Flores to become the liaison. Since I am more active in the community, they both agreed that it would be a good thing.
What would you like to accomplish as liaison?
My goal as liaison is to improve the communication between the LGBT community and the Sheriff’s Department. I’ve met with groups such as Youth First Texas and GAIN. Last Tuesday, I talked to Valiente and LULAC. I want the community to know that we are here to help and that we want to work together to make the community a better place to live.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 31, 2009.