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Wisconsin Police Department Fully Embraces Transgender Officer

Wisconsin Police Department Fully Embraces Transgender Officer

DJ Gauthier

DJ Gauthier’s colleagues have welcomed him with open arms.

As a member of Wisconsin’s 54-officer Wisconsin State Fair Park Police Department, Dezjorn “DJ” Gauthier became the first out transgender officer in the state in December 2022, according to local media.

The park is located in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis.

“You know, being a transgender officer, nothing is different,” Gauthier told Milwaukee NBC affiliate WTMJ. “Walking these grounds is the same as any officer that is down here.”

He spoke to the news station during the Wisconsin State Fair, which ends August 13. The grounds have their own police force that deploys multiple officers daily to deal with the events on the property instead of paying an outside security agency.

While officers can work 12-14 hours during hectic times, such as the State Fair, Gauthier appreciates the challenges and opportunities of working with the public.

“The folks that we encounter, right? We want to be the face of the same folks that are here on the ground,” he said.

Ken Pileggi, chief of the Wisconsin State Park Police, encouraged Gauthier to become a police officer after seeing his work as a public safety officer.

“The rookie is doing outstanding. The rookie has natural leadership abilities,” Pileggi said. “I saw so much potential in him that we decided — in talking with him — we sponsored him for the Milwaukee Area Technical College recruit academy to have him become a police officer after the 720-hour basic academy (training).”

Gauthier says he’s proud to be on the force, and his colleagues feel the same about him.

“He’s an integral part of that team, so we’re very lucky to have him,” State Park Police inspector John Flannery said.

Pleggi added, “We all wear the same patch. We all wear the same badge. He’s part of that while yet still advancing his [transgender identity] and bringing a better understanding not only just for our staff but for fairgoers as well.”

Aside from being a positive representation as a police officer, Gauthier hopes to show others that transgender people exist in all areas of life.

It is vital for him for people to know that “[We] are here, that we do exist, and that there are employment areas that completely accept us with open arms,” he said.

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