BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore Police Department has launched a new program with the main goal of protecting members of the LGBTQ community.
This program is called “Safe Place” and the mission is to provide a place of refuge for any member of the LGBTQ community who is being harassed.
Currently, Starbucks is the main company that’s participating, but the goal is to expand.
Signs will start to pop-up in windows and doors of participating businesses, and if anyone in the community is being attacked or harassed, they can run into one of those businesses to seek refuge.
“Sometimes when people are victims of a crime, it happens on the street. A person uses their cell phone to call police, but then they have nowhere to go,” said Sgt. Kevin Bailey, the LGBT liaison in the Baltimore Police Department.
Department officials said the idea came from Seattle.
Bailey said the city provided guidance on the launch. There is also another connection to Washington state. Starbucks is headquartered there and 12 of its stores are the first to join the initiative in Baltimore.
“What the Baltimore PD is doing here is about bringing the community together, to say that harming people — it’s not OK,” said Jeff Danley, a Starbucks employee.
The sergeant said the only requirement for businesses is that employees call 911 if a victim enters.
“This program started out for LGBTQ members, but this program is really for any victim of a crime. Once you see the sign, you know I can go into that business,” said Bailey.
The sergeant says a dozen Baltimore area Starbucks are currently participating, but he’ll begin to recruit other businesses.