Police forces are stereotypically macho. We picture them as masculine men with a tough exterior and sometimes a hard interior to match, and the Boston Police force is no different if not more stereotypically heightened thanks to big screen films and television shows. Police forces aren’t historically diverse. In 2013, reports showed that only about 11.6% of all officers in the U.S. were women. According to the New York Times, the most up-to-date statistics (from 2007) show that racial minorities make up only a quarter of police forces. However, even rarer in law enforcement: openly gay police officers. But thanks to a courageous couple from Boston, this may change.
Yesterday on June 17th, two male cadets graduated from the Boston Police Academy and these two officers just happen to date. It took both Jimmy Moccia and Shawn MacIver years to decide to join the force. An experience that MacIver had on a smaller police force years ago, convinced him that he would never be able to serve openly with respect and acceptance from fellow officers. Moccia and MacIver are the first openly gay couple to graduate from Boston’s police academy and thankfully their experience was a positive one.
Moccia stated that, “I think it’s important to note that throughout the entire academy experience we were never afraid to be ourselves…It’s not anything we were hiding, but we wanted to prove ourselves as classmates and friends. And over the course of our training, we were welcomed by everyone.”
Moccia and MacIver met five years ago working security at a gay club in South End. Moccia describes his experience working at the gay club: “You kind of see the different aspects of the gay community. And a lot of people that we worked with, a lot of our co-workers, were afraid of cops, and didn’t trust cops, and they had this idea that cops didn’t like them because they were a certain way.”
Although Moccia comes from a family of cops, his father and brother are police officers, his and MacIver’s experience as gay men who have worked in the gay community will give them an edge up as police officers in their interactions with people from the LGBT community. Like Moccia stated, “We are a minority in the country as well as the department. But when you talk about community policing, I think it really provides us with a deeper empathy. We understand what it is like to exist in the shadows.”
Furthermore, MacIver believes they may be the first openly gay couple to graduate from any police academy in the nation, a feat that could encourage more people from the LGBT community to join police departments and other civil service jobs like firefighting.
Although the two men are a gay couple, they don’t wish to be known as “those gay cops.” Moccia says that, “We’re cops who just happen to be gay. There’s so many other things we are. Yeah, gay’s on the list, but it doesn’t define us.” And they hope that the acceptance they experienced within the police academy will transform over to doing their jobs in the community.
With so much national news and scandals surrounding police officers and police forces in the United States at the moment, it’s great to hear that something positive is occurring in law enforcement. Perhaps, with Moccia and MacIver’s graduation we are seeing a change in police forces and academies. Perhaps, police forces are more accepting, more tolerant. Perhaps, police officers will be more considerate and determined to prevent and bring justice to the 20.8% of hate crimes that are related to sexual orientation.
Regardless, this is just another day to celebrate and congratulate this couple on their new careers and future, their future and the future of LGBT people in the United States.
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