SF Police Chief Declares LGBT Safe Zones

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 26: Same-sex marriage supporter Little Luciani holds a pride flag during a rally in support of marriage equality on March 26, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Supporters of same-sex marriage held a vigil after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on California's Proposition 8, the controversial ballot initiative that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    San Francisco's police chief announced at the Mission police station Monday morning that that station along with the city's nine other  precincts have been designated as safe havens for members of the LGBT  community to report crimes.

    Police chief Greg Suhr assured the LGBT community that "LGBT  Safe Zone" signs posted on station windows ensure a respectful, courteous and  compassionate encounter with police.

    The signs are part of project that came together after an assault  in the Mission District in February, where a member of the transgender  community was attacked after leaving a bar, Mission station police Capt. Bob  Moser said.

    The colorful, bold signs indicate the station as a safe space,  where victims can feel
    omfortable and speak to a trained professional.

    "We're a police department for everybody," Suhr said.

    He spoke about a history of distrust of police that needs to be  replaced with a mentality of a progressive, accepting police force -- which  includes members of the LGBT community within its ranks.

    The program, organized through the chief's LGBT Community Advisory  Forum that works with Castro-based organizations Castro Community on Patrol  and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, aims to dissuade the gay community  that they will be re-victimized when reporting a crime.

    Sister Pat N Leather, in full nun regalia that is the uniform of  the gay community organization, said the LGBT community is suffering from an  underreporting of crimes.

    "You don't have to feel ashamed of what happened to you," the  sister said. "You are a victim, we are here to make you feel safe."

    Greg Carey with the Castro Patrol volunteer group said designating  stations as safe havens will provide better statistics and understanding of  hate crimes and other safety issues.

    With the LGBT Safe Zone signs up at stations, community groups are  also focusing on outreach about the program, Sister Pat N Leather said.

    A roundtable meeting is scheduled with local transgender community  leaders this summer to encourage the minority group to utilize police  resources more, despite resistance.

    Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Campos, whose districts include  parts of the Mission, spoke out in support of increased dialogue between the  police department and LGBT community.

    "True public safety has to be a partnership between the police  department and the community," Wiener said.

    Campos said the zones should encourage victims to speak up and  quell the targeting of LGBT community members.

    "One attack is an attack against all of us," Campos said.

    More information about the police safe zones is available at  www.facebook.com/StopTheViolenceSF.