Long Beach, Calif., police chief Anthony Batts will be the first chief in the city's pride parade, an appearance gay leaders hail as a milestone in the once-stressed relationship between gay people and the police department. The first-year chief plans to ride in a car for most of the Ocean Boulevard course on May 18, but he may also walk some of the parade route. Openly gay police officers are also expected to participate. "It's a place for them to see who their chief of police is," Batts said. "It sends a message that [police] are part of this community and we will participate in all segments of this community."
Batts, who has been reaching out to the gay community, held an April 9 meeting at the Gay and Lesbian Community Service Center to hear resident concerns about law enforcement. He also promoted a lesbian, Laura Farinella, to lieutenant, making her his highest-ranking openly gay officer. "My big thing is relationship building," said Batts, who rode in the parade before when he was deputy chief.