Laura Martin is now a senior corporal

Laura Martin, the Dallas Police Department's LGBT liaison officer, accepts her senior corporal badge from Chief David Brown last week.

Of the 400 Dallas police officers who took an exam to become senior corporals this year, LGBT liaison Laura Martin received the highest score.

Martin was one of 37 officers promoted to senior corporal last week (photo above).

She’s been with the department for almost 14 years, including the last five as LGBT liaison officer.

Martin, currently assigned to a community engagement unit at DPD’s Northwest Division, said she doesn’t expect her duties or position to change as a result of the promotion, although she acknowledged that down the road it could “open up the department.”

“You can move around more, although I’m happy where I am,” Martin said. “It’s always good to promote if you get a chance. It’s a little more money and a better pension. … I don’t expect that I’ll be doing anything differently than what I’m already doing.”

—  John Wright

Dallas officials to host 1st Pride Month reception, but flag at City Hall must wait till next year

Delia Jasso

Dallas city leaders will host what is believed to be the first-ever official LGBT Pride Month reception in the Flag Room at City Hall next week.

District 1 Councilwoman Delia Jasso organized the reception with the help of the LGBT task force she created after first being elected two years ago.

Jasso said she will read an LGBT Pride Proclamation from the city and present it to the task force during the reception, which is open to the public and will run from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday. Jasso is hosting the event along with District 14 Councilwoman Angela Hunt and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano, who represents District 2.

City Manager Mary Suhm, Fire-Rescue Chief Eddie Burns and Police Chief David Brown are expected to attend, Jasso said. She also plans to invite Mayor-elect Mike Rawlings. The Pride Reception will take place on the same day a new mayor and council members are sworn in, so it’s likely others will be there as well.

“I think it’s the first time,” Jasso said. “I have no idea why it’s never been done before, but the task force took it upon themselves.

“It’s an important day in the gay community, and we wanted to be sure we did something for it,” she added, referring to the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, June 28.

Jasso said a banner marking LGBT Pride Month has been on display in the lobby of City Hall since June 1.

Beginning next year, she hopes the city can fly the LGBT Pride flag outside the building for the entire month. This year, organizers didn’t have time to obtain a flag large enough and determine the necessary steps for approval.

“The next step is to see what it would take to fly the flag next year,” Jasso said.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Gay travel writers descend on Dallas for GLBT International Press Tour 2011

Former City Councilman Ed Oakley, from right, Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Councilwomen Linda Koop and Delia Jasso all attended the kickoff party.


CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM THE GLBT PRESS TOUR KICKOFF AT ILUME

San Juan Capistrano has its swallows, Copper River has its salmon, Mexico has its monarch butterflies. But Dallas has its own annual migration: Every spring, gay travel writers from around the world come to town give precious ink (or for the bloggers, electrons) to what makes gay Dallas a worthwhile travel destination. The process seems to have worked: Over the six years the Tavern Guild has been sponsoring this influx of journos — the group that arrived Thursday marks the seventh time — Dallas has popped up on the radar of many “best of” polls for gay cities. And all without a beach or clothing-optional guesthouses.

I’ve taken these tours myself as a writer (surprisingly, the Tavern Guild has never invited me to take the tour), and Dallas usually puts on a pretty good show. First, it’s a lengthy tour (running for most reporters until Monday). Second, it is organized with Teutonic efficiency, including a great variety of dining options (from high-end to down-home) and traversing the Trinity to include our Cowtown brethren. From the responses I heard, the show is a good one.

And another selling point is, our local celebrities turn out. At Wednesday night’s kick-off event at the ilume pool bar, the five journalists in attendance — from  Barcelona, London, Madrid, Los Angeles and Chicago — were welcomed by a slate of local dignitaries including Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Chief of Police David Brown, and three current members of the city council, as well as former councilman and mayoral candidate Ed Oakley and current mayor attache Chris Heinbaugh. After the meet-and-greet, the writers headed off for Nana for dinner, followed Thursday with a trip to Fort Worth.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DPD says it has not yet made a determination about future enforcement at The Club Dallas

DPD LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin

Last week we reported that neither Chief David Brown nor LGBT liaison officer Laura Martin had returned our phone calls seeking comment about the dismissal of charges against several men arrested in DPD’s October raid of The Club Dallas. Over the weekend, Martin did post a comment on our article itself, which we thought we’d pass along for those who haven’t been monitoring the thread:

“We are in the process of gathering accurate information regarding the facts of the dismissal of the charges against some of the men arrested. We are being asked to make a comment regarding future enforcement at Club Dallas. Due to the large number of arrests, and the fact that several cases are still pending prosecution, we are not able to make that determination at this time. I will continue to update the community when we are able to add to this story.”

UPDATE: Martin provided this official statement from DPD on Monday afternoon:

“The Dallas Police Department recently learned that many of the charges involving activities at The Club Dallas in October 2010 were dismissed. The department plans to meet with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office as soon as possible regarding these cases. The purpose of the meeting is to determine the cause of the dismissals, and to determine what, if any, procedural changes may be needed. An update will be provided following the meeting.

—  John Wright

More on Club Dallas

We’re still trying to get in touch with someone at the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office to explain why prosecutors have chosen to dismiss charges against several of the men who were arrested in the Dallas Police Department’s raid of a gay bathhouse in October. However, it appears we are running into the same roadblock as the Dallas Morning News. The DMN reports that District Attorney Craig Watkins has designated one person to handle all media inquiries, and prosecutors in the DA’s office have been instructed not to talk to the media at all, and some fear getting fired if they do.

Anyhow, we’ve requested an interview with Watkins himself about the decision to dismiss the charges. The DA’s office’s media representative informs us that she’s passing along our request. It seems as though when the Dallas Police Department goes out of its way to raid a gay bathhouse and arrest 11 people — then the DA’s office declines to prosecute — there ought to be some sort of public explanation. The raid was hugely controversial in the gay community and made national news. We could speculate, as others have, that the DA’s Office believes these cases would be difficult to prove and doesn’t view them as a priority. Again, though, that’s speculation and hearsay — something prosecutors don’t typically like.

We also haven’t received any response from DPD as to what the department thinks about this decision by the DA’s office. We’ve spoken with both LGBT liaison officer Laura Martin and Chief David Brown himself, and both have promised to get back to us. Specifically, we’d like to know whether DPD plans to continue conducting these types of raids in the future knowing that the DA’s office isn’t going to prosecute those arrested. Imagine all the resources it took to plan and conduct the raid, then complete all the paperwork and book the 11 men into jail. And all for nothing, apparently. In extremely tight budget times, that shouldn’t sit well with anyone.

—  John Wright

David Brown at Sue Ellens

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—  Dallasvoice

DVtv: DPD Chief David Brown at Sue Ellens

New Dallas Police Chief David Brown appeared Thursday afternoon at a forum put together by the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, the Dallas Tavern Guild, and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce. About 50 people attended the forum on the second floor of lesbian bar Sue Ellens, where Brown pledged his support for and desire to work more closely with the LGBT community. Among other things, Brown committed to appearing in the annual gay Pride parade. Have a look.

—  John Wright

Police Chief David Brown to meet with LGBT community next Thursday at Sue Ellens

In Friday’s Voice you can read my recap of new Dallas Police Chief David Brown’s recent comments concerning an anti-gay hate crime in Oak Lawn. (You can also watch the video here). And late Thursday night crime watch leader Nancy Weinberger sent along word that Brown will meet with Oak Lawn business owners, residents and others at 3 p.m. Thursday, June 10 at Sue Ellens. It sounds as if Brown is serious about reaching out to the LGBT community, which is a good thing.

—  John Wright

WATCH: New DPD Chief David Brown talks about the recent hate crime in Oak Lawn

Dallas’ new police chief, David Brown, spoke last Tuesday night during the regular monthly meeting of LULAC Council 4871—The Dallas Rainbow Council. As far as I know, this marked Brown’s first appearance before an LGBT group since he became chief. As you can see from the video, it was pretty dark inside Havana, where the meeting was held. But Brown’s comments concerning the recent hate crime near Cedar Springs are at least worth a listen.

—  John Wright

David Brown is Dallas' next top cop

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It’s official. After WFAA reported last night that Assistant Chief David Brown would be Dallas’ new police chief, then City Manager Mary Suhm denied that she’d offered the job to anyone, “Dallas City Hall” is reporting on its Facebook page today that Brown will indeed take over for the retiring David Kunkle on May 5. So unless someone has hacked into the city’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, we’re assuming it’s true.

I’ve been unable to dig up any info on Brown’s record or views on LGBT issues, but here’s a recent profile from The Dallas Morning News. When I’ve asked LGBT advocates about the police chief selection process over the last few months, they’ve said they trusted Suhm to find someone who is good on our issues.

Foremost among those at this point would be continuing and possibly expanding LGBT diversity training in the department, as well as upholding Kunkle’s recent decision to make the LGBT liaison officer position full-time.

We’ll try to get an interview with Brown in the near future to discuss all this.

—  John Wright