San Diego police release new policy for “interacting with transgender, non-binary persons”


SAN DIEGO, CA – Just in time for “Pride Month,” the San Diego Police Department recently released a new set of guidelines they say is designed to improve relations with the local transgender and non-binary community.

City officials told Fox 5 San Diego that the new rules “are designed to create a mutual understanding among community members and police on the procedures that will be followed, to prevent conflict and to ensure appropriate interactions with transgender and gender-nonbinary citizens.”

SDPD Chief David Nisleit said in a statement:

“The San Diego Police Department continually looks at how we can enhance or add new policies and procedures to better our police practices and interactions with all community members.” 

The Chief continued:

“These new guidelines were developed in coordination with our LGBTQ community and set clear expectations for interactions between SDPD officers and transgender and gender-nonbinary community members.”

The guidelines, announced on June 1 and presented as San Diego Police Department Police Procedure Number 6.34, require police officers to address transgender and non-binary individuals by their preferred name, regardless of the name on their identification.

In addition, an individual’s preferred pronouns must be used and documented, and the person’s legal name must not be used in reports if that person prefers another name.

Procedure 6.34 goes on to stipulate:

“The officer shall document the preference in the narrative (e.g., ‘The Victim Smith identifies as a transgender female and will be referred to as her preferred name, Smith and as female throughout this report.’).”

Assumption of a person’s gender status is forbidden, regardless of appearance.  The document explains further:

“Department members shall not assume a person’s transgender status or sexual orientation based solely on their appearance. 

“Department members may receive visual or verbal cues about a person’s gender identity during their interaction with transgender or gender non-binary individuals.”

Police officers, when presented with a claimed gender identity, must accept and “shall not question” the gender identity of a person.

When it comes to pat downs and searches of non-binary, intersex, or transgender persons, officers must ask whether that person prefers to be searched by a male or female officer.

Interestingly, given the unquestioned accommodations already tabulated in the document, the option of being searched by a transgender or non-binary or intersex officer is not on the table.

In the event that a transgender or non-binary person is to be booked into jail, the policy further stipulates that a transgender or non-binary person is to be transported to their “preferred jail facility” (i.e., male or female).

Procedure Number 6.34 also requires officers to make “every reasonable attempt” to retrieve medications for transgender individuals, explaining:

“Often transgender individuals take medications as part of their transition. Missing doses or coming off those medications can be life threatening to the individual.”

The new procedure was drafted by SDPD Officer Christine Garcia, who is the department’s transgender and LGBTQ liaison. Garcia, according to the Los Angeles Times, transitioned from male to female in 2015.

Garcia told the Times:

“Since I am transgender myself, I took it upon myself to draw this up.”

Garcia also told Fox 5 San Diego that the new procedures:

“…[let] our community know the San Diego Police Department understands the needs of our community and the appropriate treatment of all individuals based on their preferred gender identity.”

Garcia continued: 

“As a member of the transgender and LGBTQ community, I strive to work with the community to ensure our police officers can respect and serve our transgender, gender-nonbinary and LGBTQ community.”

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, who is himself openly gay, said in a statement:

“Historically, many members of our LGBTQ community — particularly those who identify as transgender or nonbinary — have not been recognized or respected for who they are.”

He continued:

“That changes with this procedure. This is a much-needed and welcome change that is symbolic of the respect we should have for one another and how we create a San Diego that is truly for all of us.”

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San Diego police officer dead after responding to welfare check of a man ‘under the influence’

February 3, 2021

SAN DIEGO, CA- On Tuesday, January 2nd, a San Diego police officer died while on-duty after he went into medical distress. 

The San Diego Police Department reported that Officer David Sisto was working patrol in the Northeastern division with a trainee early Tuesday morning, when around 2:50 a.m. they were dispatched to the Carmel Mountain neighborhood for a welfare check of a man who appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Another officer arrived on scene first, detained the man, and requested paramedics.

Police reported that several minutes after officer Sisto and his trainee arrived as backup on the call, officer Sisto started experiencing shortness of breath. A second ambulance was called to take him to the hospital, where he died.

The department said Sisto never came in contact with the man during the patrol call. The homicide unit is investigating Sisto’s death, which is standard protocol for on-duty deaths. Detectives will work with the Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the cause of death, Fox5 reported.

According to The San Diego Union Tribune, Lt. Shawn Takeuchi wrote in an email:

“We do not know what happened and will need the pathologist at the (Medical Examiner’s) office to tell us,”

He went on to say:

“He did not have signs of COVID however the (Medical Examiner’s) office will have to make that decision.”

Officer Sisto was 39-years-old and served the San Diego Police Department for more than ten years. According to his family, he is survived by his wife and two sons aged five and three.


Chief of Police David Nisleit said:

“I want to extend my sincere condolences to Officer Sisto’s loved ones,” 

He went on to say:

“I also ask for the San Diego community to keep their thoughts and prayers with the Sisto family during this difficult time.”

Officer Sisto’s father, David Sisto Sr. said of his son:

“We lost a good man today,” 

He went on to say:

“He was a very good, caring person. You wouldn’t meet anyone who didn’t like him. He was solid, the rock of the family. I’m his dad, and he was my rock. He took care of everyone.”

Law Enforcement Today would like to send our deepest sympathies to the Sisto Family. 

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