The Washington Post has a story up about Brett Parson, an icon in the DC gay community for being a trailblazer openly gay cop who more or less wrote the book on sensitive LGBT community policing in that city.
Parson was arrested doing a very stupid thing:
Around 12:30 a.m. the night before, Parson had been pulled over by officers from Coconut Creek, who’d seen him driving the red convertible near a quiet office park 20 minutes away. Police reported they watched as the convertible followed a gray sedan into a parking lot. Both cars made a U-turn and returned to the road. The gray sedan then pulled into a fenced-off area with an empty field and a Comcast tower. The gate, which should have been locked, was open. What were these drivers doing there in the middle of the night? The officers stopped both cars.
Parson told them they were mistaken. He wasn’t following the gray sedan. He was just lost and looking for Interstate 95.
“I’m a cop from D.C.,” he said. In reality, he had been retired and only a reserve officer for two years.
They let him drive away. Then they went to talk to the driver of the gray sedan.
The window rolled down to reveal a thin White boy. He said he had pulled over to text a friend. The officer told the boy he didn’t believe him. In his report, he described what the teenager — who turned out to be 16 – did next.
“He dropped his head, took a deep breath, and stated he met the guy who was following behind him online and they were meeting to ‘hook up.’ ”
The teenager began to tell the officers the story he would repeat at least three times that night, including at the sexual assault treatment center where he was taken after his parents were called.
He’d met Parson on Growlr, a dating app for gay men that requires users to be 18. He’d lied about his birthday to use the app, claiming he was 18. He said he and Parson exchanged oral sex in the parking lot of a day care.
He said he knew Parson used to be a police officer.
What he didn’t know was that Parson was not just any police officer. The man who had just driven away was known nationally and internationally as a pioneer of gay rights in policing.
I don’t know enough about the laws about such things in Florida to know for sure, but I’m guessing that meeting someone on a gay hook-up app that requires you to be 18 years old with a credit card might be some sort of defense in saying you didn’t know someone was not of legal age. There does not seem to be any evidence, according to the boy in question and Growlr chat records, that Parson knew the boy is under 18.
Having said that, it is exceedingly stupid for a former cop with lots of experience on sexual assault cases to be meeting age-mysterious young men for sexual liaisons in cars in public places. (“I like younger,” Parson said to the boy in a Growlr chat.)
Then there is the issue of gays being seen as predators of the young, which has again reared its ugly head lately as anti-LGBT hatred starts to ferment more widely in the GOP.
Aside from those issues, however, are the questions the article raises about Parson’s behavior and temperament while he was still a sworn officer in DC., during which he had a reputation for being a hothead who crossed the brutality line on a number of occasions.
I once knew a gay cop in Boston, battle-hardened Marine, whose bravado and arrogance on the job was legendary. I’m guessing those behaviors (along with the Marine part) put him in good stead with his fellow officers. He was the opposite of a sissy, so to speak.
One gay Pride Day I was watching this cop, let’s call him Derek, keeping an eye on things when suddenly a car full of young men, no doubt out for a day of harassing the fags, drove on the street in front of us laughing and screaming anti-gay slurs from the car.
Derek, in uniform, shot out into the street where that car was stopped in heavy traffic. He reached through the window, grabbed the driver by the throat, lifted him up in the driver’s seat, and screamed at the men in the car that if he ever saw them again they’d rue the day they were born.
Derek looked like a former Marine and he comported himself like a cop who was a Marine. He no doubt put the fear of God into every kid in that car.
As someone who’s been the target of harassment from cars full of young men, it was exhilarating to see these would-be fag bashers get their comeuppance — from a cop, no less.
But there was something about how out of control Derek was that made me wonder, “I wonder what kinds of innocent people have been on the receiving end of that fury?”
Anyway, later in life, I heard that Derek had started mental health therapy and had gotten his anger issues under control.