Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 21, Ed. 1 Friday, October 7, 2011 Page: 9 of 68
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New FWPD liaison officer
'ready for a new challenge'
Officer Kellie Whitehead tapped to
take over as LGBT liaison, says she
hopes to work more with youth
TAMMYE NASH I Senior Editor
FORT WORTH — Fort Worth Police Depart-
ment Officer Kellie Whitehead said this week that
she sees her new assignment as the department's:
liaison to the LGBT community as an exciting next
step in her 12-year career with the department.
'1 was ready for a new challenge, for something
different, and after talking to [former LGBT Liai-
son Officer Sara Straten] I was very excited about
this new opportunity," Whitehead said.
Whitehead takes over as LGBT liaison from
Straten, who had held the position since it was cre-
ated two years ago in the wake of the Rainbow
Lounge raid. The liaison officer is part of the
FWPD's Public Information Office, and PIO Su-
pervisor Sgt. Pedro Criado said that Straten had
chosen to move to a new position "where she can
get back to doing hands-on police work."
Criado said that Whitehead's previous assign-
ment as a Neighborhood Police Officer had given
her experience that will be invaluable in her new
role as LGBT liaison.
"The Neighborhood Police Officer program is
about community policing. These officers are as-
signed to work in a specific designated area and
to build relationships with the people of that
neighborhood," Criado explained.
"A patrol officer responds to specific calls and
has to clear those calls and move on to the next
one. The Neighborhood Police Officer is the one
who is there, on call 24-7, to follow up on any
problems. They are mediators, friends, problem
solvers. This program frees these officers up, gives
them flexible schedules, so they can work on is-
sues long-range/' Criado added.
That, Whitehead said, is basically the same mis-
sion she has now as liaison officer, only instead of
working in a specific geographic neighborhood
she will be working specifically with the LGBT
Whitehead said that she will continue the work
Straten initiated as LGBT liaison, and that she also
hopes to expand the position's outreach.
"I am going to continue to build the relation-
ships that Sara started, and I hope that maybe I can
work a little more with the kids in the community.
I know there are kids out there who are having a
really tough time, and I want to find ways to help
them," Whitehead said.
She said she also hopes to be able to reach out
to non-LGBT youth "who have been raised not to
be accepting of people who are different from
Officer Kellie Whitehead
them" and help bridge that gap in understanding
Whitehead, who grew up in Mineral Wells, said
that being a police officer had been her dream
since she was a child. She said she studied criminal
justice in college, but had to leave school to get a
job before she got a degree.
She worked as a private prison for a couple of
years and then moved on to a job with a security
company. It was while working as a security guard
in Fort Worth's hospital district that she began to
meet and form relationships with FWPD officers.
She finally was able to join the FWPD in 1999.
Whitehead said she has been open with her fel-
low offices and her superiors about her sexual ori-
entation since she first joined the police force, and
that she has never faced any discrimination from
But now, in her new position as LGBT liaison,
"IH be more out than ever! But I am ready for it. I
have never been ashamed of who I am."
Whitehead said that her partner and the rest of
her family have been "totally supportive" of her
move to the liaison position, and that she believes
that kind of support is vital to her success as an of-
ficer and as community liaison.
"There's no way you can do this job without
your family backing you up, and everyone in my
family has been very supportive and encourag-
ing," she said. "That's going to make it even easier
for me to do the job and do it well. I just want to
do everything I can to make things better for the
Thomas Ariable, president of the LGBT commu-
nity organization Fairness Fort Worth, said he is
pleased with the way the police department has
handled the transition from Straten to Whitehead,
and that he looks forward to working with the
new liaison officer.
"I think she is very professional and I think she
will do a very good job," Arable said.
And Sgt. Criado agreed. "When Sara Straten
took this position two years ago/ she hit the
ground running," he said. "And I am certain that
Kellie is going to take that ball and just keep on
running with it. I think she is. going to be great." ■
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 21, Ed. 1 Friday, October 7, 2011, newspaper, October 7, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239188/m1/9/: accessed May 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.