Jess Hall, 1 of the Nation’s 1st Non-Binary Police Chiefs, On Being a Role Model in Their Wisconsin Town

Jess became Police Chief for the Red Cliff PD on the Red Cliff Reservation near Bayfield, Wisconsin, in April. And they are settling into their role of being a LGBTQ+ role model. 

For LGBTQ+ and other underserved communities, representation is vital. And non-binary police chief Jess Hall uses their position of power to represent and be a positive influence on their community

After working for the department since 2017, Hall became police chief for the Red Cliff Police Department on the Red Cliff Reservation near Bayfield, Wisconsin, in April. And they are settling into being a role model. 

“I just do what I'm doing,” Hall told Inside Edition Digital. “But I also recognize that I'm a role model. I'm conscious of my role as a role model.”

Hall, 35, is one of the first openly LGBTQ+ individuals to serve as police chief of their department. And is likely one of the first, if not the first, openly non-binary police chiefs nationwide. 

“I have yet to be able to find in, in all of my Google search rabbit holes, to be able to find any other mention of an openly non-binary police chief in the nation,” they noted. 

Hall stepped into the role not hiding who they were. They even sported a rainbow pin on day one of work. 

“So probably the first week, I was a little bit nervous,” Hall said. “But within that very first week, I got so many positive comments and just thank yous from individual community members. After the first week, nah, wasn't nervous.”

Now, a rainbow American flag patch is a permanent fixture on their uniform.

Whether they’re handing out anti-bullying or safe space stickers around town or helping someone in the LGBTQ+ community struggling, Hall is impacting others. 

“I have gotten a number of correspondences from mostly younger folks,” they said. “The Gen Z generation, the portion of the generation that is just now entering what we consider the professional field. I've had LBTQIA+ people just entering the professional field basically saying, ‘Thank you for what you're doing, because I don't feel alone anymore.’”

In addition to the positive community response, Hall’s coworkers have welcomed and supported them. They’ve even openly talked with co-workers about pronouns and have been a resource when questions arise.  

“Another staff member has family members that are either, just they're under the umbrella of gender nonconforming,” they said. “So, on occasion, I act as a resource. A personal resource for my office staff members when they have questions or just having trouble wrapping their head around something that their family member had said or is having an issue with.”

Hall has taken on the responsibility of being a positive LGBTQ+ role model and also aims to be a positive representation of police officers in general. 

“My favorite interactions with the people that belong to the community I serve are interactions where I can make a connection with an individual who maybe has not had a very positive experience ever with law enforcement,” Hall said. “To even break the perception of the us versus them mentality. To break the cycle of all cops are the enemy.”

As for their local LGBTQ+ community, Hall wants everyone to know they always have somewhere to turn.

“The first thing I would say to them, is that you're not alone," Hall said. "You're not alone. And so many, many young people do genuinely feel alone. I will do absolutely everything I possibly can do to at least provide a moment of safety and a moment of active listening, where I will hear everything they need to say out loud.”

And Hall hopes others around the world can do the same. 

“If we can find, or even create a small little pocket of the LGBTQ community somewhere,” they said, “I think that will go a long way to not just saying the words, you're not alone, but demonstrating that you're not alone.”

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