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Is The Palm Springs Police Department Anti-Gay?

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An article in today's San Francisco Chronicle questions the gay-friendly reputation of Palm Springs, at least as far as law enforcement in that city goes. The criticism stems mainly from recent sting operations that have targeted gay men.

Last summer, Palm Springs police used undercover officers to arrest 24 men in a gay neighborhood for allegedly trying to engage the officers in sex. While few in the gay community defend anyone having public sex - whether gay or straight - the anger is over the unusual charges in the case: The men are charged under Section 290(c) of the California Penal Code, making those who are convicted register as sex offenders for life, their names added to a police database.

That charge is essentially a life sentence, defense lawyers say, and has never been used against straight couples arrested for similar activity in Palm Springs. Adding fuel to the community anger is surveillance tape shot inside a patrol car during the sting. One officer can be heard using an anti-gay slur, while another officer laughs. 

The lawyer for several of the men arrested, Roger Tansey, tells the Chronicle what the sting operation consisted of:

"A typical scenario," Tansey says, "would be a couple of cops, who were dressed in tank tops, would walk around grabbing their crotches and staring at the defendants' crotches saying, 'Show me what you got. Show me what you got.' In no case did they come upon any man already having sex." Tansey adds that "in many cases the defendants were reluctant to participate and wanted to go back to a room or someplace more private and were coaxed to stay and allegedly expose themselves by the officers."

City officials fear a possible boycott from the LGBT community and, of course, a potential financial hit for the city has sparked a review of the stings.

The economic fallout on the city is not lost on City Manager David Ready, who says, "Palm Springs is very concerned and spends a significant amount of resources on tourism as our driving economic factor. So anything that affects tourism is of great concern to the city. That being said, the chief is doing his internal review of this sting operation, and he will be making recommendations on our policy going forward."

The Chronicle also points out that the Palm Springs Police Department has only one openly gay person, a lesbian, on the force.

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Comments

  1. @Stephen, I wouldn't say "nice dick." They could easily trump that up as solicitation and bust you, no matter what you say afterward.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 19, 2010 10:06:43 PM


  2. If the city of Palm Springs is foolish enough to believe we gays will spend our hard earned money (and lots of money) on their city when they take that money to further anti gay discrimination...that city has another thing coming.

    Thousands of gays are watching you right now Palm Springs, better make the right decision or look forward to seeing your town become literal dirt.

    For Palm Springs gay residents; please galvanize and organize protests at the police department. Be loud, and be heard showing your visibility and exactly how high the population of gays in that city is. I have faith in you and faith you can make a huge impact on that bigoted, mess of a police force.

    Posted by: Jackson | Jul 21, 2010 2:32:04 AM


  3. I'll bet they'll scratch their heads when people stop vacationing there and stop trusting their (abusive) authority figures.

    PS just lost my money.

    Posted by: Jake | Jul 21, 2010 1:28:20 PM


  4. THE ANTI GAY CHIEF "DOMINGUEZ" AND ANTI GAY D.A "PACHECO" PLANING TO ARREST THOSE INNOCENTS GAY MALE ONLY IN AN OPERATION CALLED BLACK NIGHT FOR GAY MALE "ONLY" FOR COURSE .
    NO STRAIGHT MALE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND CHARGER AS SEX OFFENDER FOR LIFE.
    PLEASE FIRE CHIEF DOMINGUEZ AND D.A PACHECO . PLEASE

    Posted by: Paul | Aug 10, 2010 7:59:11 PM


  5. This is going on in Palm Springs but much more is happening...care to check out some of the police reports Hummm You won't like what you see...they are going to see some big changes in the way they conduct business in Palm springs...this has been going on for such a long time..not just with gays..we need the clean up most of the police department in the city...and look at the mayor...please its under his watch..he knows what goes on in his city

    Posted by: howard | Oct 11, 2010 9:29:45 AM


  6. cops are perverts and rapists too umm do u really have to touch my breast to check for drugs? we love our job!

    Posted by: alexandra | Nov 3, 2010 3:22:08 PM


  7. Write the mayor..I did...it's entrapment. The way they handled it, it is a crime to solicit sex, but it needs to be done equally..

    Steve.Pougnet@palmsprings-ca.gov

    Posted by: mnrocko | Dec 29, 2010 9:48:58 AM


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