ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – St. Louis is joining more than 60 cities across the country where police have set up “safe places” in an effort to reduce crime and harassment against members of the LGBTQ community.
Officer Christopher Pederson says Park Avenue Coffee downtown was the first business to register as a safe place.
“They’re going to have signage there, and they’re going to welcome in individuals that may need some sort of help,” he says. “Generally, they are welcome to call 911 and wait for officers to respond.”
Pederson says Seattle police started the program in May 2015. His hope is that by next year’s PrideFest, dozens more downtown St. Louis businesses will have signed up.
Park Avenue Coffee owner Dale Schotte says his employees have been trained on what to do if victims of crime or harassment come in seeking police help.
“Everyone in downtown St. Louis should have a safe place to go. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you need help, you are welcome to go in any business downtown I would think,” he says. “This just reaffirms with the LGBTQ community that we are there for them specifically, as well.”
St. Louis police say businesses wanting to join the program and get a decal for their window can email firstname.lastname@example.org.