Charleston Police Department first in state to implement ‘Safe Place’ program
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A new program implemented by the Charleston Police Department hopes to both reduce anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and encourage reporting of those crimes from witnesses.
The program is called “Safe Place” and was first put in place by the Seattle Police Department.
The sticker signage will designate locations as a secure refuge for LGBTQ crime victims to receive support and contact law enforcement.
“It’s an opportunity for everybody in the city to say we’re gonna stand up to hate and we’re not gonna tolerate it here,” CPD officer Terry Cherry said. “This is a place where they should feel safe and if something happens, people will support them. Not only the police, but the community as well.”
Since 2018, South Carolina lost four transgender women of color to violence. The state has also seen an increase in hate bias incidents from 2015 to 2018.
Chase Glenn is the executive Director of the Alliance for Full Acceptance or AFFA which advocates for LGBTQ rights.
He says this program is a step in the right direction.
"Anything that encourages safe spaces for LGBTQ folks and creating those spaces in our area is a good thing," Glenn said.
Participating businesses will put the logo in their window, which is an acknowledgment to collaborate with police in an effort to encourage reporting and reduction of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes.
“Participating entities will serve as locations where LGBTQ victims who experience crime, discrimination, or harassment can safely call 911 and wait for police to respond,” police department spokesman Charles Francis said. “The SAFE PLACE program will assist with suspect accountability, reducing crimes of hate, and demonstrating a citywide ‘no tolerance’ policy toward discrimination.”
Sixty-five businesses and organizations in the city have been trained on the program’s responsibilities and will participate in the program.
Charleston police are asking any business which wants to participate in the program to reach out to officer Terry Cherry at email@example.com or (843) 720-2470.
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