San Francisco has launched a new citywide program that designates the 10 police stations in the city as “safe zones” for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
Each station will have police officers that have been trained specifically to serve the gay community. This network of safe spaces will have publicly posted signs that state “LGBT individuals will be treated with respect, compassion and honesty.” The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) hopes that establishing these “safe zones” will discourage hate crimes, and encourage LGBT people to report any incidents.
Writing for San Francisco’s Mission Local blog, Tay Wiles wrote about the press conference announcing the new “safe zones” program.
The police department’s LGBT Advisory Forum is leading the effort in partnership with the SFPD, community groups like the Castro Community on Patrol, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of charitable street performers who use high camp and satire to combat sexual intolerance.
“This is a historical moment,” said Sister Pat N Leather, who appeared in her mock nun’s habit beside San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr at a kickoff event at Mission Station this week. In Washington state, Leather said, police have tried creating a room for LGBT community members within a police station, but she believes that San Francisco’s planned program is the country’s most extensive yet.
The program comes in the wake of an incident in February of this year in which two transgender individuals were assaulted in the Mission. Supporters of the safe zone initiative hope it will help LGBT community members to feel more comfortable reporting hate crimes to the police.
“What are they going to say to the police officer — I was out cruising when this [crime] happened?” Leather asked. Organizers said that with dedicated liaisons at each district station, they hope the answer to that question might eventually be yes.
As the program moves forward, the SFPD is going to expand the program to include businesses that are interested in being designated as a safe zone.
BRAVO to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the SFPD LGBT Advisory Forum, Supervisor Scott Wiener and Supervisor David Campos, and the SFPD - for their commitment to fighting hate crimes.
Unfortunately, we do have hate crimes in one of the most tolerant cities in the world, and it’s reassuring to know that the SFPD is committed to investigating these incidents.
You can get more information about the safe zones by clicking here.
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