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Founder of Peace Officers Training Committee resigns
QSanAntonio.com, October 7, 2011

On September 9, Travis Peterson, the chair of the Peace Officers Training Committee, tendered his resignation citing declining health. For the past four years, the committee has offered GLBT awareness training to cadets at the San Antonio Police Academy.

The program was initially developed by Peterson after he approached Police Chief William McManus with the idea at a meeting of the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio in 2006.
Today, thanks to Peterson and to the committee's efforts, every class of cadets now gets this important training.

Original members of the Peace Officers Training Committee in 2006: Dr. J. Lynne Armstrong, Marsha Warren, Travis Peterson and Roberto Flores.

In 1975, Peterson become the first openly gay social worker in Texas manifested by his opening a private practice in psychotherapy, with a specialty in GLBT issues, in Houston and San Antonio. He advertised in gay publications and made presentations to GLBT groups.

“I was in the right place at the right time to be successful in this practice, coming right on the heels of the American Psychiatric Association's decision to erase homosexuality from its list of mental diseases,” says Peterson. “GLBT persons were eager to see a counselor who would not assume they were sick because of their sexual orientations.”

Peterson has also been a GLBT activist and an educator, providing training and learning opportunities for mental heal professionals and the general public. He says that of over 300 presentations he has made in his career, 100 of them dealt with GLBT issues.

Peterson has been a member of the Houston Lesbian and Gay Political Caucus. He was the founder of the Association for Lesbian and Gay Mental Health in Houston. In 1992, he was named Houston Social Worker of the Year by the Houston branch of the National Association of Social Workers.

In 1984, Peterson was the first openly gay social work lobbyist sent to the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, to lobby for social work and GLBT issues. He was an openly gay delegate to the 2006 Texas Democratic Convention. Locally, he is the secretary of San Antonio Democratic Precinct 501, and member of the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio.

In 2008, Peterson's work with the training committee was recognized by the local chapter of the Human Rights Campaign when they presented him with the Chuck Jordan Award for lifetime advocacy.

“Throughout his professional career, Travis Peterson has worked hard for the community,” George Page, a local HRC Governor, told QSanAntonio at the time. “When we read his resume, we knew that he was a perfect fit for the Chuck Jordan Award.”

Last month, Peterson was again honored, this time at the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio Annual Awards Dinner where he received an award for Community Leadership.

In announcing his resignation, Peterson included a letter he sent to Police Chief William McManus in which he recounts the training committee's successes and details some areas where he still sees room for improvement.

Following is Peterson's letter of resignation to Chief McManus and to the community.

Dear Chief McManus:

I am writing to inform you and the community that I recently submitted my resignation as chairperson of the Stonewall Democrats of SanAntonio's Peace Officers Training Committee, and my resignation was accepted by the board.

Unfortunately, my continuing health decline negates my abilities to lead this important project, and necessitates my pulling back.

Concomitant with accepting my resignation, the Board also elected to drop its sponsorship of the training. It has never been a good fit with Stonewall's mission statement--which is the identification and support of elected officials who are supportive of equality under the law for GLBT citizens.

As you know, the project was born out of a presentation you made at a Stonewall meeting one night regarding your recognition that GLBT citizens are worthy of this support. The POTC is now free to seek other sponsorship, or to continue as a "stand alone" committee.

Rev. Naomi Brown has agreed to serve as my successor as chairperson of the project. Like myself, she is a masters level social worker, currently employed full-time at Haven for hope. She has been a member of POTC almost since its inception, handling the teaching of various parts of the curricula. She has a much more charismatic personality that I, and will do an excellent job with the project.

There have been two areas where there has been little or no progress as far as this project is concerned, and I hope the continuing committee will be able to address these. The first has to do with our inability to develop a plan for providing the training to seasoned officers, as opposed only to cadets.

When I saw that you had successfully negotiated with the officer's union for a regular hour for continuing education for sergeants--I believe I'm right about this--I had hoped that this might be a vehicle for the delivery of our material. I suggested this once at the Academy, but it went nowhere.

The second has been our inability to deliver our material to the Bexar County Sheriff's Department. I realize this is not your concern, but perhaps you could put in a good word for us there? I mainly mention it here as something for the POTC to follow up on.

There is also the need for the members of the POTC to receive some sort of remuneration for their time-consuming efforts. I brought this up once at the Academy also. This is not a deal-breaker, but even remuneration for the mileage to and from the Academy would be a nice "thank you."

It has been my great pleasure to be involved with the Academy in this endeavor, sharing what I learned in a similar project in Houston. I have appreciated your support of the project here: It would not have occurred without that support. I continue to be pleased that you are our Chief.
Congratulations on the recent recognition the Department has received in accreditation, and continued success to you!

Travis L. Peterson, MSW
Clinical Social Worker - Emeritus