Katie Davey, Boise Police Department’s LGBT Liaison, acquired an affinity in an unexpected way for the LGBTQ community earlier this year during a newspaper interview when the subject of her sexual orientation suddenly came up.
“I was not used to sharing that info, and it was the first time I felt like I had to protect my sexual orientation,” said Davey, who for the record is straight, though she feels very strongly that that kind of personal information should be no one’s business, and said it doesn’t routinely come up in any other part of her personal or professional life. In addition to her role as LGBT liaison, Davey is also a victim witness coordinator, a civilian position, for the Boise Police Department (BPD).
“I can assure you that I don’t generally have to identify my sexual orientation with victim witness clients. That interview gave me a different perspective,” she said, on people living life openly as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer.
Born and raised in the Butte, Montana area, Davey earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Montana in Missoula before moving to Boise, following her parents who had relocated there. Davey is currently enrolled in an online program with Capella University, just two classes away from getting a master’s degree in mental health counseling. She landed her job as BPD’s victim witness coordinator in June 2012, working before that for an agency that helped children with autism.
“I’m passionate about crisis intervention,” she said.
Davey took on the LGBT liaison job in December 2012, just before Boise’s citywide non-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBTQ residents in employment, housing, and accommodation took effect in January. She replaced Janet Lawler, who left the position in spring 2012. Davey put her name in the hat for the job early on, eagerly determined to add it to her list of BPD responsibilities, “and they couldn’t say no,” she said.
Davey said she grew up hearing anti-gay jokes in high school, always feeling they were wrong, and after moving to Missoula for college, met a lot of openly gay people. She always knew she wanted to do what she could to be an advocate for the LGBTQ community.
“This is a population that needs to be represented and not overlooked,” she said.
Her work as LGBT liaison has primarily been educational so far, including participating in a Q&A discussion with the LGBTQ and Allied community in January about Boise’s ordinance at The Community Center in Boise, and guiding officer interactions in potentially uncomfortable situations when responding to a complaint call. An informational pamphlet has been created for officers about the ordinance, detailing protected categories, exemptions, and the investigative process.
To date, no official LGBTQ-related discrimination complaint has been filed with the city since the ordinance’s passage, Davey said, noting that she wasn’t necessarily expecting a sudden influx of complaints.
“We did our research before the ordinance passed and found that similar cities of our size would have three to five complaints in a calendar year,” she said.
Davey would love it if one day every city in Idaho had a liaison to serve the LGBTQ community, but said she is content for now to serve as the positive—and visible—example of support for the LGBTQ community from the BPD. She’s not yet had any queries about her position from other Idaho municipalities, but has already been in communication and sharing notes with a police officer in Ohio who is also an LGBT liaison.
Davey shouldn’t be contacted directly to report a potential complaint, but encourages people to reach out to her for more information related to her position and the non-discrimination ordinance: 208-570-6224 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To report a complaint, call BPD’s non-emergency dispatch line at 208-377-6790.
“My hope is that I will be utilized,” she said. “I simply want open dialogue. If there are crimes out there going unreported that might exist related to the ordinance, and maybe people are afraid to report them, let me help. I’ll be the first to say ‘Tell me more.’”
Steve Martin is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Idaho. Email Steve.