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PRESS RELEASE


From: Kaila DeRienzo, Communications Director/Public Information Officer - NSO
February 22, 2017

 

Norfolk Sheriff’s Office Implements First LGBT Liaison


LGBT LiasonsThe Norfolk Sheriff's Office takes pride in being a progressive organization that provides an inclusive work environment and a diverse staff. Over the years, the NSO has built a solid relationship between the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community.

Continuing that relationship, Sheriff Joe Baron is proud to announce the implementation of an on-staff LGBT liaison, Lieutenant Meryah Breeden. Corporal Xavier Kent will support her as the assistant LGBT liaison. Sheriff Baron is the first sheriff in Hampton Roads to initiate this type of position, which is similar to others recently created by police departments across the country.

On top of their normal duties, Lieutenant Breeden’s and Corporal Kent's roles will include serving as spokespeople for the NSO to local LGBT demographics, represent LGBT interests to the leaders of the NSO, as well as promoting the organization as a safe, hostile-free environment to work in, regardless of sexual orientation.

"We want to make sure our staff understands that they are fully supported if they want to attend events or volunteer for things that maybe in the past they didn't feel comfortable doing. As an organization, we have their backs," Lieutenant Breeden said.

Additionally, the Norfolk Sheriff's Office is proud to have the full support of Hampton Roads Pride, a local organization that unites the LGBT community and allied communities in support of inclusion, dignity, and equality.

"In any workplace, anytime you can make any effort to be more inclusive, you're going to create an environment where people will be more likely to stay or want to join," Michael Berlucchi, President of Hampton Roads Pride said.

Hampton Roads Pride vows to provide assistance and resources to the Norfolk Sheriff's Office, if needed. "We are beyond excited to have their commitment to equality and for their service to the community," Berlucchi added.

The staff at the NSO has been notified of this new initiative. Individuals are encouraged to seek out their liaisons to get involved in volunteer opportunities, ways to recruit others, or just talk about life.

"To think of where I was when I was in college, where I was uncomfortable being a lesbian. Now I'm in an organization where I can be open with who I am," Lieutenant Breeden said.

Sheriff Baron hopes by making Lieutenant Breeden and Corporal Kent available to staff members, every employee will feel embraced as a person when he or she comes to work. "No one should have to check his or her identity at the door," Sheriff Baron said.

Corporal Kent agrees, stating that the NSO has always been supportive of his choices and he is so proud to be giving back to others who may need some assistance. "I feel like I'm part of a family here. I know that if I pick up the phone and call one of my coworkers, whether I'm gay or straight, they'll have my back," Corporal Kent said.

The NSO will continue Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) training and maintain objective classification for all inmates inside the city jail.

If you have any questions, please contact Kaila DeRienzo, P.I.O, at (917) 485-2990 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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