LGBT Liason
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rainbow circle 512The 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 implemented an on-staff LGBT liaison, Lieutenant Meryah Breeden. Corporal Xavier Kent supports her as the assistant LGBT liaison. Sheriff Baron was 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, Lt. Breeden’s and Cpl. Kent's roles 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," Lt. 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," Lt. Breeden said.

Sheriff Baron hopes by making Lt. Breeden and Cpl. 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.

Cpl. 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.

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