#1 – You are a cisgender man who is a police officer in a jurisdiction where the state legislature has passed an anti-transgender “bathroom bill.” It is an election year, and the Governor who signed the bill has bragged at political rallies that he has ordered all police departments to regularly dispatch an officer to every public restroom in your precinct and arrest anyone who “looks suspicious.” You are the only officer in your department who has read the reports from several major police departments across the country declaring that there is no need for enforcement of such a law; you also are familiar with Governor Dennis Daugaard, who vetoed a similar bill passed by the South Dakota legislature and concluded that the bill served ‘no public safety purpose’; you also know that Governor Nikki Haley vetoed a similar bill passed by the South Carolina legislature and concluded that the bill served ‘no public policy purpose’; you also have researched the national crime databases and have seen that there is no evidence of rampant attacks on women in public restrooms in jurisdictions that allow people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. Yet, despite all your research and knowledge on the issue, your Police Chief has informed you that he’s receiving pressure to fire any officer that does not enforce this law.
What would you do? How would you use your discretion as a police officer to do what you think is the most evidence-based and just course of action?
#2 – Your partner, Officer Smith, recently came out to you as a transgender woman. She said she has received enormous support from your Police Chief and the other officers in the department, but feels dismayed by the recent decision of the Governor & state legislature. She wants to gather your entire police force together to make a collective decision not to enforce this law in your precinct. In a private conversation, your Police Chief supported such a stand on the issue, saying in a moment of frustration that “it would be a tremendous waste of time for our department to enforce this law. We have so many other actual and serious crimes to deal with, and this is just some election-year pandering by politicians to scare their supporters to the voting booth again.” What is your next move, officer?