Living just steps from the border of Wilton Manors, I reside in one of the gayest areas in the nation. Depending on what stat, survey, census, based on residents, owned businesses, per capita gay couples, Wilton Manors ranks 1st, 2nd, or 3rd gayest place in the United States.
While walking around the island city, a police presence is seen, felt, known. When there is a threat against our community here, we see the protection that is offered to us. When there is a pride celebration, you will find me clapping louder for the police forces marching in the parade than when the church groups and politicians walk on by.
There has been no question in this citizen's mind if the police force is here for the LGBT community of Wilton Manors. But now, they are literally rolling out their support. The Wilton Manors Police Department has redesigned a squad car with “Policing with Pride" statement on the back window and rainbows along the sides.
The Orlando Sentinel shares that Gary Blocker, the city’s assistant police chief, stated, “This is our way of supporting our Wilton Manors community that is welcoming to all. Each and every day, our agency polices with pride and passion and this car reinforces to our stakeholders that we are stronger together.”
Will the car be just for show? It is planned to be out and proud at the upcoming Pride Fort Lauderdale (Feb. 23-24) and the Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival (June 15).
The new vehicle is a little bit of a show as well as a get back at Fort Lauderdale. South Florida Gay News (SFGN) reports:
Wilton Manors police decked out the cruiser in early January well ahead of the two upcoming events so they couldn’t be shamed like they were last year when another city thought of it first.
“Fort Lauderdale skunked us last year,” O’Connell confessed. “They had one of their cars wrapped for our Stonewall parade last year. We are trying to one-up them.”
The festive decor will come off after the June event.
“It’s a wrap. Easy on, easy off,” O’Connell said. The city spent about $1,000 on the decals, he said.
“The few dollars that were spent are significantly outweighed by the popular impact,” O’Connell added. “It’s a great illustration of our Police Department reflecting the community it serves.”
So a little competition between neighboring towns/cities. But both cities still have our best interest in mind.
The Orlando Sentinel also states the police department invites people to take selfies with the Pride Patrol vehicle and use the hashtag #wmpd4all .
Keep up the good work Wilton Manors. Thanks for being an example for others.