WLKY: LMPD, Starbucks partnership creates ‘Safe Harbor’ for LGBTQ community

By Ann Bowdan | WLKY News

lmpd_safe_place_posterA new initiative to reduce hate crimes and bullying against the LGBTQ community was announced Wednesday, and it happened over coffee.

From the decorative cups to the sign on the door, whenever you see a woman in green and white with a crown, you know it’s Starbucks. But now, there’s a new sign that will be on the door of local Starbucks that means something completely different.

“The idea is to create a safe place, which is being referred to as a ‘Safe Harbor,’ where a victim of any crime, especially anti-LGBTQ crimes, can come for assistance while waiting for police response,” Chief Steve Conrad said during a press conference outside an east Louisville Starbucks.

Like McDonalds with their ‘Safe Place’ signs for children, Starbucks shops in Louisville now have their own sign saying they are a safe and secure place for crime victims.

“Each Starbucks and any business that wants to join in this effort will display a Safe Harbor decal in their window. That decal is intended to symbolize that business’s commitment to victims of crime here in our community,” Conrad said.

The goal of Safe Harbor is to reduce anti-LGBTQ hate crimes.

LMPD partnered with Starbucks after the program showed great success in Seattle, the birthplace of the coffee franchise. It was that city’s police department that created the program.

“This is a new era where progressive policing and progressive leaders realize the importance of community outreach, especially with the LGBT community,” said Jim Ritter, with the Seattle Police Department.

Louisville Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman said: “Nearly a quarter of our LGBTQ people face some type of hate violence or hate crime at some point in time in their lives. It’s particularly worse for LGBT people of color.”

Starbucks employees are trained by LMPD officers on how to respond when a victim comes to the store, and they hope to encourage more reporting of hate crimes by all.

“Absolutely, it shows a partnership between the department and the LGBT community. And it’s about embracing diversity and showing that we are compassionate,” said LMPD officer¬†Johnny Burgraff.

All 24 free-standing Starbucks stores in Louisville are adopting the program.

LMPD is the first major police department outside Seattle to adopt the program, which they said will be fully functional within 30 days.