Tracy Patterson has been a trailblazer in the Winnipeg Police Service in many ways. Patterson’s work in the Community Relations Unit (CRU) changed opinions, perspectives and greatly influenced a more informed and considerate approach to the LGBTQ2+ community at every level in the Winnipeg Police Service.
Patterson’s biggest contribution to changing the culture within the service has always been who she is. She’s always willing to have a conversation about tough issues, she gives people space to figure things out and she’s also been the first openly gay officer that many have known. Patterson has started conversations that allow the police to better respond to the LGBTQ2+ community. Although unintentional, some had an insensitivity toward individuals in the LGBTQ2+ community because they didn’t understand some of the community realities.
Even though there is some contention when the topic of the LGBTQ2+ community and police comes up now, Patterson was the officer who was responsible for the police taking part in Pride in 2013 to 2017. She singlehandedly made the most significant strides towards linking the LGBTQ2+ community and the police community. She’s also done ground-breaking work with youth and individuals at Graffiti Gallery to build bridges between police and those with complex relationships with police.
One of the most significant shifts in culture is attributed to the LGBTQ2+ training. She was the one who developed and implemented training for the WPS. The training provides information about LGBTQ2+ history, experience, including her own and appropriate language. This training is mandatory for all police and civilian supervisors, as well as new recruits and cadets.
Patterson has helped her police colleagues understand things better. Watching an increasing divide between her LGBTQ2+ community and her police family has been very hard for Patterson.
Because of Patterson’s efforts, police members and civilian staff have a place to feel comfortable to talk about their own gender, sexual identity or the gender and/or sexual identity of their own family members.
This wasn’t possible until Patterson came along.