While legal battles rage on over North Carolina's anti-LGBT law known as House Bill 2, law enforcement officers in the state won't be arresting any restroom deviants any time soon.
Damien Graham, a spokesman for the Raleigh Police Department, told NPR on Tuesday that his department will not enforce the sweeping law, which requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that do not match their gender identity, because "the bill doesn't speak to enforcement nor penalty."
Raleigh Police had attorneys review the language of HB 2, but since there "wasn't any specific language that spoke to enforcement or even penalty," the department wasn't sure how its officers could enforce the law, Graham told NPR.
The law, introduced and signed into law in less than 12 hours on March 23, also rescinds all existing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances, prohibits new ones, and bars residents from suing for discrimination in state court.
If the police receive a complaint about someone in the "wrong" bathroom, the department will respond, says Graham, but officers will not penalize or arrest anyone for using the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
NPR confirmed with several local police departments that there has not been a single complaint filed about transgender people using restrooms in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, or Asheville. This tracks with overwhelming evidence nationwide that proves there has never been a single verified report of a transgender person assaulting a cisgender (nontrans) person in a bathroom or locker room, nor has there ever been a confirmed instance of someone "pretending" to be transgender to gain access to sex-segregated spaces for nefarious purposes.
Christina Hallingse, the public information officer for the police department in Asheville, told NPR that it would be nearly impossible to enforce HB 2. Doing so would drain the department's resources, because it would require officers to stand guard outside public restrooms asking people to present their birth certificates before entering these gender-segregated spaces.
"It would take them off the streets, off patrol and having to put them at bathrooms," explained Hallingse of the logistics of enforcing HB 2.
"We have so many great things that are going on and a real positive energy that's going through the city, but this is the issue that's really getting the attention of the world right now," said Graham about the widespread outrage over HB 2. "And that's unfortunate."
The federal government announced that it is suing North Carolina over HB 2 on Monday, just hours after Gov. Pat McCrory announced his own federal suit against the Department of Justice for threatening the state's federal funding because HB 2 violates existing civil rights protections against discrimination based on sex in employment and education.