The “Safe Place” initiative recently launched in St. Petersburg and so far, according to the city, about 50 businesses have requested the new window decals that designate them as a location for LGBTQ people to seek help if they become victims of a hate crime.
According to the city, local business owners are invited to display the rainbow decals on a front door or window to “show their willingness to allow employees to call police and help victims who seek refuge in their building.”
The first St. Petersburg business to join the initiative was Out of the Closet, 3400 26th Ave. S., which is where Mayor Rick Kriseman and the St. Petersburg Police department held a press conference on June 15.
The Safe Place concept was originally designed by the Seattle police department to assist LGBTQ victims, but, according to the city of St. Petersburg, “its spirit and symbolism is inclusive of all hate crimes.” The Seattle Police department encourages program participation by “supporting community members, businesses, schools and organizations.”
A local business can obtain a free 4×6-inch decal by filling out the online registration form on the St. Petersburg police website: police.stpete.org/cache/safe-place.html.
According to the website, “this is a new model of police and community collaboration aimed at spreading a message of inclusion and making sure that the ‘sun shines on everyone’ in St. Petersburg.”
The St. Petersburg Police department is the second Tampa Bay area law enforcement agency to launch the program. Earlier in June, the Tampa’s police department adopted the initiative and according to TB Reporter, it is designed to “give victims of hate crimes and bullying a safe spot to wait for law enforcement to arrive.”
Gulfport is not currently offering the program, but it is something that can be looked into, said Gulfport Police Commander Joshua Stone.