SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - In conjunction with this weekend's Silicon Valley Pride festivities, San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia raised the LGBTQ Pride flag outside of the department's headquarters on Friday.
Chief Garcia said he and the department are sending a message that all are welcome here.
"Days like today should be a sign that we are making progress," Garcia said.
To the LGBTQ officers of the San Jose Police Department, this Pride flag going up is a sign that barriers have come down.
"I applied for police work in 1987 and being out at the time was unheard of," said Rebecca Marquez, SJPD's Community Outreach Coordinator.
Unheard of, she says, because then, being out might have kept you from getting hired or would mean you'd be ostracized if you did get a job.
Chuck Hill, a supervisor with SJPD's CSO program said it's an uphill battle with law enforcement.
"Much like the military, it has a past that's not always so friendly, was not always so friendly towards the LGBTQ community.
But now as the Silicon Valley Pride festival gets underway, the chief is sending a message to the rank and file.
"We don't want your identity left at the door. We want you to be who you are. Yeah, you've got to wear a uniform, but don't change who you are. Be proud of who you are. And that's really what the message is today."
With this, SJPD said they're one of the first major departments in the country to raise the Pride flag outside their headquarters.
In addition, they've created a LGBTQ recruiting campaign, set up a special advisory committee, and required all officers to go through sexual orientation and gender identity training.
Community activists like Wiggsy Siversten said it's been a long time coming.
For the officers, this flag raising was a cause for celebration. Lindsay Parodi said this flag tells her she works for the right department.
"It makes me feel respected. It makes me know that I'm loved that I'm appreciated here at the police department. And I think it's going to be a very powerful message coming straight down from the chief, Parodi said."
The flag will be up through this weekend for the Pride festival. SJPD also plan on being out at the Pride events recruiting.