Renee Propes began work last Thursday in her new assignment as a deputy chief for the Atlanta Police Department, the first known openly gay person to hold a command position within the APD. She's a native Atlantan and has been on the force for 27 years.
Propes attended the APD's LGBT Advisory Board meeting Monday night and spoke with Georgia Voice for a few minutes about the excitement of her promotion as well as serving as a role model for others who cannot be out in the workplace.
"It's very exciting," she said about receiving the news from Chief George Turner. "This is the pinnacle of my career."
Open lesbian Renee Propes talks about promotion to deputy chief for Atlanta Police Department
Propes credited the APD with being a diverse department that represents the community it works for.
On being openly gay, Propes said she has never been harassed by other officers in the APD for who she is but believes her being out in a high profile position can help others.
“I guess as a role model to other folks that can’t be openly gay in their workplace. We’re a diverse community, we’r a diverse police department, we’re reflective of the community we serve,” she said. “I’m proud I can represent those folks who can’t represent themselves.”
With her new position, Propes is the commander of the Community Services Division, which includes Hartsfield Jackson International Airport — where she was working before becoming a deputy chief — and special operations which includes SWAT, the DUI task force and the new federally-funded Community Oriented Policing Section.
When asked if she thought her promotion was part of the promise Chief Turner and Mayor Reed made to rebuild trust with Atlanta’s LGBT community, especially after the botched Atlanta Eagle raid last year, Propes was quick to point out she got the position because she is qualified.
“I was an original Red Dog, I’ve been a zone commander — all my experience is where I’ll be drawing from to help bridge the gap …with all communities, not just the gay community but all communities throughout the city.”
Glen Paul Freedman, chair of the police department’s LGBT advisory group, has worked with Propes on many events, including Atlanta Pride as well as town hall meetings and neighborhood meetings.
“I think she’s well deserving of [the promotion]. She’s always fair, straightforward and she tells you like it is,” he said.
“Finally we have somebody who is a high ranking out gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender human being in the police force that will actually help our community,” he added. “The chief has chosen her because she’s well deserving — I think it’s awesome she just happens to be an out lesbian.”