Baltimore police announce new 'Safe Place' initiative with local businesses

Baltimore police announced Wednesday the “Safe Place” initiative to provide victims a place to wait for responding officers after a crime has occurred.

The program is a partnership between the department and participating local businesses that place rainbow-colored stickers that read “Safe Place.” Those businesses agree to train employees to call police and provide a space for victims to wait until an officer can respond.

“If a victim of a crime enters your business, all your staff should do is call 911” and allow the victim to remain on the property until police arrive, said Sgt. Kevin Bailey, the police department’s LGBTQ liaison, at a news conference announcing the new initiative Wednesday.

Sometimes, after a crime on the street, the victim has nowhere to go, Bailey said. “They feel victimized. And it’s just them standing there,” he said. But the sign will let them know they can go into that business and feel safe, he said. If the person chooses to leave, the businesses are just asked to call 911 back and give a description and tell them where the victim went so the police will have time to locate the victim, Bailey said.

He said he first learned of a similar program run by the Seattle police department. He traveled to Seattle and met with residents and businesses who praised the program, which was started in 2015.

While the idea was initially aimed to support LGBTQ victims, he said the program in Baltimore can help support all crime victims.

The program is voluntary. Businesses that are interested in participating can go here for more information.

Jeff Danley, the regional director of operations for Starbucks in Maryland, said the company has already agreed to have 12 locations participate.

The Safe Place initiative, he said, “aligns with our company’s values and mission, which is to embrace diversity, and create a welcoming and inclusive and safe environment for everyone.”

Carlton Smith, who serves on the police department’s LGBT advisory board, also praised the new program, and said such partnerships are important to the community “to make sure all citizens are safe.”

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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