LGBT community wants more protection Police assign liaison to deal with concerns

Members of Jersey City’s LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender) community will soon see a greater police presence meant to protect them.

On July 15, over 50 people attended a meeting at City Hall. LGBT representatives spoke with Mayor Jerramiah Healy, City Councilman Steve Lipski, and the Police Department about increasing security in their community.

It was announced that Det. Phil Raleigh, working in Police Chief Thomas Comey’s office, is now a police liaison with the LGBT community in order to address their safety concerns. He is considered the first person with that role in the state of New Jersey.

The liaison and the meeting both came about as the result of attacks in recent months in the Journal Square area, such as teens chasing and assaulting openly gay individuals. In one incident, the victim received multiple head stitches.

Raleigh said that as the liaison, he will work with the Police Department’s community-relations officers stationed in each of the city’s four police divisions, and with local LGBT organizations.

He will keep track of areas where LGBT people gather and where they could be potential targets for homophobic attacks.

“It’s important to make everybody feel safe and show that we all belong,” Raleigh said.

City spokesperson Jennifer Morrill said last week, “It was brought to the mayor and the police chief’s attention that some people had concerns about crimes being perpetrated against them based on their sexual orientation, which is something the JCPD takes very seriously.”

Jersey City has gained attention in recent years for its growing LGBT population, with estimates ranging from 5 to 10 percent of the overall population who are considered LGBT.

The city is home to an annual LGBT Pride Festival that will be held again later this month.A new contact

Detective Raleigh said he has already met with representatives of various LGBT organizations across the city.

Raleigh also said there isn’t an increase in homophobic attacks, but there was a perception by the LGBT community that there had been.

When asked about “hot zones” or problem areas, Raleigh could not go into detail about those areas.

But he was quick to say that individuals in the LGBT community should step forward immediately to report any incidents by calling (201) 547-5477. Also, if there are any questions, they can contact him at (201) 547-5831. LGBT wants to be SAFE

Welcoming the forming of the liaison position is Guido Sanchez, the executive director of the Pride Connections Center of New Jersey in Journal Square. It is a non-profit organization formed in 1993 to serve the needs of the LGBT community, including those who are HIV-positive or stricken with AIDS.

Sanchez, who said he spoke at the July 15 meeting, praised the appointment of the liaison.

“It shows the entire the Police Department and the entire municipality is really dedicated to making sure the LGBT community, which definitely experiences a greater deal of harassment and assaults than some other communities, now has an avenue to make sure those cases are being reviewed and that certain areas are being kept safe,” Sanchez said.

He said he has personal knowledge of those attacks, as victims in two incidents have sought shelter at the center while waiting for police.

He said he was surprised that those incidents were not reported in the local papers.

Sanchez also plans to bring awareness of these incidents as well as inform the LGBT community of how to protect themselves. There will be a series of workshops at the Pride Connections Center this fall, in collaboration with Detective Raleigh and other members of the Jersey City Police Department. Comments on this story can be sent to


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