Continuing efforts to create safer communities for all, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit and Mayor Todd Gloria were joined today by Council President Jennifer Campbell, Council President Pro Tem Stephen Whitburn and LGBTQ business and community leaders to launch the San Diego Police Department’s new Safe Place Program. The Safe Place Program is an initiative to help San Diegans clearly identify businesses that are safe places for victims of a hate crime or how to report suspicious activity.
“The San Diego Police Department wants every resident to feel safe when reporting a hate crime that has already occurred or helping us stop crime before it happens by reporting suspicious activity,” Chief Nisleit said. “The Safe Place Program will help San Diegans visibly know which businesses in their communities they can turn to for help and provide a valuable resource for them to access information about these types of crime. Our LGBTQ community has been a great partner in helping us get this program off the ground and we look forward to expanding it even further in the future.”
Businesses participating in the Safe Place Program will post the Safe Place sticker in the window of their establishment that contains a QR code for more information on hate crimes, how to report them and information tailored to community resources for persons often targeted by acts of hate.
“Not only does this program inform people about how to report hate crimes, it shows victims and potential victims where they can find help and support in the community which can be critical in an emergency,” said Council President Campbell. “We want the LGBTQ community to know where they can be safe and make it absolutely clear that hate has no place in our city.”
Over the past several months, SDPD’s LGBTQ liaison, Officer Christine Garcia, has worked with LGBTQ community members to develop the program for businesses in Hillcrest, North Park and surrounding neighborhoods, with plans to expand the program to businesses serving the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in the coming months.
“Our LGBTQ businesses – particularly bars, cafés, and bookstores – have historically been spaces where people could find community, get connected to resources, and feel a sense of safety,” said Council President Pro Tem Whitburn. “I am glad to see the launch of the Safe Place program in San Diego starting in some of our LGBTQ venues, as this will become a way for community members who find themselves to be a victim of a hate crime to feel more comfortable in making the report and getting the help they need.”
Nicole Murray-Ramirez, a longtime activist who is among the pioneers who fought for LGBT rights and a Pride celebration in San Diego 40 years ago, called Wednesday an "important day for us in the LGBT community in San Diego and our relationship with the San Diego Police Department.”
“This sign means that any San Diegan facing a hate crime or harassment can come into our LGBT bars and businesses and we will help and protect you from hate and violence because for us in the LGBT community, a hate crime against one of us is indeed a hate crime against all of us," Murray-Ramirez said.
In addition to the Safe Place Program, SDPD is currently in the process of developing a new Department Procedure for interactions with transgender and gender non-binary individuals. The new procedure will establish guidelines for how SDPD officers use visual and verbal cues to become aware of an individual’s gender identification, proper documentation of this information in reports for continuity of treatment, and ensuring any jail bookings, pat-downs or searches are performed in accordance with their preferred gender status. The procedure is currently under departmental review and will be distributed to all members of the department upon final approval.
“Urban Mo’s is honored to be the first to display the Safe Place decal for members of our community to know that Mo’s is a safe haven from hate,” said Chris Shaw, Co-owner of Urban Mo’s. “The San Diego Police Department and Chief Nisleit have done an amazing job at promoting diversity within SDPD not only for the LGBTQ community but for all communities in San Diego. SDPD is truly listening to our concerns and taking action to address them.”
Today’s announcement also comes on the heels of SDPD facilitating several community walks in San Diego neighborhoods with a large number of AAPI residents and businesses to inform residents about what is or is not considered a hate crime and provide resources on how community members can report acts of violence or suspicious activity following a rise in crimes against AAPI citizens across the nation.
Businesses wanting to display the LGBTQ Safe Place Program sticker in their store can click here