El Paso Police Chief Disavows Prior Statements, Pledges To Enforce Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

Jim Burroway

July 12th, 2009

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen has issued a statement “to correct and clarify prior statements” concerning the eviction of five men from an El Paso restaurant after two of them kissed. The new statement calls prior statements an “incorrect recitation of the law” and recognizes the police department’s responsibility to enforce the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance. That 2003 ordinance bans discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation.

This statement is in response to public outcry over actions by police officers who were called to Chico’s Tacos restaurant after a security guard threatened to remove five male customers because two of them kissed. The guard told the group to leave, saying that “faggot stuff” wasn’t allowed. The men called police over their pending removal, but instead of enforcing the city’s anti-discrimination law, a responding officer threatened the cite the kissing couple for violating a nonexistent law against “homosexual conduct” — one that presumably would go so far as to ban something as radically “faggotty” as a kiss. Later, an EPPD spokesperson compounded the problem over the non-existent law by saying that the five men at Chico’s Tacos could have been charged with criminal trespass instead.

Chief Allen’s statement now recognizes the police department’s responsibility to ensure “the opportunity of each person to obtain goods and services in all process of public accommodation without fear of discrimination.” The new statement “recognizes the negative impact that discrimination can have on a community”and requires that all police personnel “be courteous and respectful in their official dealings with the public.” Chief Allen requires EPPD personnel to “maintain a level of competence” in enforcing the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance, and warns that failure to do so “will result in appropriate discipline.”

Official Statement from El Paso Police Chief Greg Allan Regarding the Recent Incident at Chico’s Tacos

This statement is to correct and clarify prior statements by various employees of the El Paso Police Department made to the media regarding the application of the law on public accommodation and discrimination to the events that occurred on or about June 29, 2009, at the Chico’s Tacos restaurant.

First and foremost, these prior statements were an incorrect recitation of the law. The correct local law clearly states that it is within the responsibility of government, including its employees, to bring about through fair, orderly and lawful procedures, the opportunity of each person to obtain goods and services in all process of public accommodation without fear of discrimination.

The El Paso Police Department recognizes the negative impact that discrimination can have on a community. Thus, the police department is mandated to conduct itself with dignity, which means that all employees will be courteous and respectful in their official dealings with the public and that all employees will maintain an awareness of those laws, policies and other factors that affect their responsibilities.

I, therefore, require that all employees of the police department maintain a level of competence that keeps them abreast of the current laws and requirements of the law enforcement profession. Failure to maintain such will results in appropriate discipline.

I, therefore, require that all employees of the police department maintain a level of competence that keeps them abreast of the current laws and requirements of the law enforcement profession. Failure to maintain such will results in appropriate discipline.

[Note: The repetition of the last paragraph is original to the statement]

Lucrece

July 12th, 2009

The statement was tepid and did not even apologize.

It said “we were incorrect”, not “We’re sorry we weren’t there when you needed us.”

Zeke

July 12th, 2009

I sincerely hope that the actual press release was not as poorly written as the one posted here. The spelling and grammar are horrendous. And before someone makes a “grammar police” comment I just want to point out that spokespeople are PAID to write these up to portray their departments in the best light possible. If ANYTHING representing my office went out of my office reading like a second grader wrote it, the person who produced it would be fired on the spot.

Secondly, I agree with Lucrece, the correction is severely lacking. It contains no apology and, even worse, says that the force’s officers will henceforth be required to follow the law. THE OFFENDING OFFICER CLEARLY DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THE LAW WAS! How can officers properly enforce laws that they don’t seem to know exist, especially when they’re threatening to enforce a law that was declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court YEARS ago?

I would have liked to have seen the press release: 1. apologize for the officer’s shameful conduct and the department’s previous press release defending him; 2. Acknowledge the force’s lack of knowledge of the law; 3. Explain what the department plans to do to rectify this lack of knowledge of the law; and 4. Pledge to require all officers in the department to undergo sensitivity training to better understand where law enforcement has failed, and continues to fail, gay citizens that they are supposed to protect and defend.

I know this is WAY too much to ask of them since they probably felt that they had gone well beyond the call of duty by even suggesting that a mistake had been made.

I’m just glad to see that even in deepest, darkest Texas, homophobes, even ones with badges, are widely and effectively being taken to task for their inappropriate words and behavior.

Penguinsaur

July 12th, 2009

The new statement “recognizes the negative impact that the media hounding me can have on my paycheck”and requires that all police personnel “not be so obvious the next time you arrest one of those fags”

^I think I captured the meaning behind his words.

elaygee

July 13th, 2009

On the other hand, I think it is a clear effort to address the poorly handled situation and remedy it to prevent further occurances, mainly because they know if they don’t it’s going to cost them big bucks in a lawsuit. That can be a motivating factor in changing behavior and if it does, I’m happy with the statement and the intended results.

People do stupid things without realizing how stupid the action was. Now they are all on notice, no more of that poor police performance or you will pay.

former el pasian

July 13th, 2009

This is why I found a way, any way, to move out of El Paso as soon as I could after high school. Even though El Paso is one of the few blue (democrat) areas in Texas, it still doesn’t feel safe for gays and lesbians.

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