NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Sgt. Frank Robertson, a 15-year veteran of the police department, is the NOPD’s official liaison to the city’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
In addition to his regular duties overseeing cases in the department’s Child Abuse Unit, he helps his fellow officers navigate through a community that may be reluctant to approach law enforcement, according to a news release from NOPD.
A little more than two years ago, the department was looking for someone to serve as the initial connection between NOPD and LGBT residents and visitors.
Robertson agreed there was a need for such a position and approached Superintendent Michael Harrison with a recommendation of another officer to fill the post.
Instead, the chief gently challenged Robertson to think closer to home.
“The second time the chief said, ‘But what about you?’ I realized I needed to be the one to step up,” Robertson said.
Robertson had not come out professionally at that time but he soon decided that any concerns about his personal privacy were not as important as bridging the gap between the NOPD and New Orleans’ gay community.
Officers and detectives often seek Robertson out for assistance in identifying a person who may have been a victim or a witness to a crime.
“I know their names so I can put them in touch with people in the community,” he said. “I also encourage members of the community to contact detectives with information. I help them understand the importance of reporting a crime and help walk them through things like filling out a police report. I really serve as a funnel to bridge the gap between the two groups.”
In January 2017, Robertson was responsible for bringing in a victim of a violent crime that was captured on cell phone video.
The video showed a transgender female being chased and beaten by an unknown male. Social media outlets eventually removed the video from their channels, but concern from the LGBT community remained.
Friends of the victim told Robertson that she was afraid to come forward, so Robertson videotaped a heartfelt plea asking the victim to contact him and report the crime so NOPD could begin tracking down the perpetrator.
The video ran on the NOPD’s Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as Robertson’s personal page. Within hours, the victim called Robertson and agreed to meet with him. The investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Robertson’s liaison role is 100 percent voluntary, and he admits that he has to do a lot of juggling to get everything done.
“Most of what I do is done during my off time,” he said. “But it’s important to have someone ‘in the middle’ who can speak to both groups. The gay community often feels NOPD is not sympathetic to them and I want to communicate that the NOPD is here and listening to them. I’ve heard the concerns and I’ve had people tell me they’re afraid to talk to the police, so I encourage people to come forward with whatever they have that might help an investigation.”
Anyone who would like to speak with Sgt. Robertson about a crime or an incident affecting the LGBT community can reach him at 504-301-5869.