LGBTQ cops talk about being out and proud in Central Florida and Tampa Bay

By : Jeremy Williams
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Tom Woodard had law enforcement in his blood. His parents were both officers; his mother was a detective for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and his stepfather was a major in the Winter Haven Police Department. Woodard wanted nothing more than to go into the family business, and in Oct. 1988, he got his wish. Woodard became a deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) on Halloween.

Less than a year later, Woodard’s world would be turned upside down when a fellow officer outed him as a gay man.

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Badges of Courage: Local authorities across Central Florida and Tampa Bay aim in the direction of tolerance, not discrimination

By : Anna M. Johnson
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The Orlando Police Department Headquarters is tucked away inconspicuously on the Amway side of I-4. The “Ultimate Improvement Project” construction blocks most of the adjacent parking, leaving the closest available open spaces directly under the overpass. A stone staircase leads to the office.

Inside, all visitors are required to wear bright neon visitor passes. There is a small gift shop that sells police merchandise right next to the enclosed information desk. It is called the “Cop Shop.”

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