New Rochelle detective upset over NYC Pride March decision to ban officers in uniform
June is Pride Month and while thousands will celebrate during the popular 'Pride March' in New York City, some members of the LGBTQ community are speaking out against the parade organizers.
In May, Pride March organizers announced they would no longer allow police officers to host exhibitions or participate in the event while in uniform.
Organizers say the decision is partly based on some members of the LGBTQ+ community's discomfort and even fear of police in uniform, saying, in part, they're "unwilling to contribute in any way to creating an atmosphere of fear or harm for members of the community.”
Melissa Diniz is an 11-year veteran of the New Rochelle police force, a mom, and a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Diniz serves as a youth police detective protecting the community where she grew up. Her focus is preventing juvenile crime by interacting with young people and their families. "There's ones where it's just one and done and there's sort of like a satisfaction where, you know, that the kid needs a little bit more help. And it can be challenging, but it means a lot to me to be able to help the ones who are a little bit more of a challenge."
Detective Diniz is also an educator among her peers, serving as her department's LGBTQ+ liaison - a position she helped to create. She conducts workshops to help fellow officers better understand the gay community. "We talk about orientation and the right words to use. And basically, I teach what matters police wise and what doesn't matter," says Diniz.
Diniz says her department has been open and accepting to who she is and her ideas, but she now finds exclusion from some members of her own community. "The inclusion of one group of people makes the other group of people feel excluded. So you're just going to choose which group to exclude, which in my mind just really doesn't make sense. That's not the solution," explains Diniz. "You're taking people who are making change, affecting change, educating cops, you know, and you're saying that we can't do something because we're cops…and you're saying that I can march, but not in uniform. I'm still a cop, not in uniform."
Some in the LGBTQ+ community tell News 12 that many are afraid to speak out about the city’s decision because they are afraid of backlash. Diniz says she actually felt more supported by her brothers and sisters in blue than from her gay friends when she decided to speak out. "All the things that I've done in my past make me who I am. And being a cop also contributes to who I am… I'll never not be proud to be a cop." Diniz says she has no plans to take part in this year's parade or any pride events in the city.