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Transgender suspects to get their own lockup in downtown L.A.

April 17, 2012 | 10:53 am

The visiting area of LAPD's Metropolitan Jail

The LAPD says next month it plans to open a segregated lockup for biologically male and female suspects who identify themselves as members of the opposite sex.

The 24-bed transgender module should be open by early May at the LAPD women's jail downtown, the first such police lockup in the nation, according to Capt. Dave Lindsay, the jail division commander.

"This is a major change," Lindsay said. It will allow for "an environment that's safe and secure, as there's been a history of violence against transgender people."

City jails are for holding people only until they are arraigned in court on the charges on which they were arrested, typically a maximum of three days; then they are transferred to the Los Angeles County Jail, run by the Sheriff's Department. The county jail will not be affected by the changes.

Up until now, transgender men and women arrested by Los Angeles police have been housed in the station closest to where they were detained — most often the jail at the Hollywood Community Police Station on Wilcox Avenue.

Transgender women — men who dress and identify as women — were housed with the male population. Transgender advocates have long argued that such practices put transgender inmates at risk of being sexually assaulted or beaten.

The announcement was made at a Thursday night community meeting in Hollywood, where Police Chief Charlie Beck and command staff discussed issues specific to transgender residents.

Beck told the group of about 50 that the department would train officers to refer to transgender individuals by the name and gender they prefer.

The same policy also instructs officers to treat transgender individuals with respect and courtesy when encountering them on the street and bars them from searching transgender people with the sole purpose of determining their anatomical gender.


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— Sam Quinones

Photo: The visiting area of LAPD's Metropolitan Jail. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times.