Detroit Police Department LGBT Liaison Cpl. Dani Woods has agreed to participate in the National LGBT Task Force’s Creating Change conference following a lengthy meeting on Thursday, Jan. 24 with Director Andy Garcia and other conference organizers.
Woods will appear on Saturday, Jan. 26 at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center downtown for the What the L? All Things Lesbian workshop in “soft uniform” complete with a black polo and tactical pants. Woods will also wear a badge with her name on it.
“It’s very representative of the police,” said Woods. “I’m still going to represent, and I’m happy to be able to do that. That is plain clothes. I’m going to represent in that matter and still be able to display who I am and what I do.”
Woods was initially disheartened when she was informed Tuesday, Jan. 22 that she would not be able to appear at the conference in uniform or with her weapon. Woods quickly took to social media where she found a groundswell of support. But Creating Change has a strict no guns policy and conference organizers said that some attendees might be uncomfortable in the presence of uniformed police.
“They explained to me that other officers are here and they come to the conference but they’re in civilian attire,” said Woods. “They come as participants of the conference and I’m like, ‘yeah, that’s great but none of them are on a panel and none of them were asked to do what I was asked to do.’ As a panelist, you wouldn’t ask a doctor to come with no scrubs or no stethoscope to career day. How can you explain what you do without your tools?”
Despite that, Woods said she felt valued and genuinely welcome at the conference.
“I think they have made quite an effort in 24 hours to not just rectify it or fix it, but they have actually thought about it and what change looks like through a different lens,” said Woods. “I’m happy about it. I’m happy that the community has resolve. I’m not thrilled. It’s not perfect. But they did make it right as best they could, and I was willing to meet them half way. I can’t let the community down and not show up. It’s bigger than me. It’s not just about me and my uniform. This is about what we’re doing here in Detroit together. This is a movement that includes all of us. Nobody can be left out.”
Woods said that while she understands Creating Change’s policy, she still feels it might be time to amend it.
“I really do think that after this they’re going to go back to the drawing board and kind of rehash the policy,” said Woods. “I’m not saying it’s going to change. But I think they’ll amend it or add a little more to it or in some kind of way give respect to the community members that wear a uniform.”
For now, Woods said she is happy with the outcome and looking forward to attending the conference.
“I’m a spiritual person and things happen in divine order,” said Woods. “I’m just really happy about the actual change that came about today.”