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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

San Diego police, LGBTQ leaders launch 'Safe Place Program' for reporting hate crimes, suspicious activity

A new program helps to identify safe places for San Diegans in the LGBTQ community to go if they become victims of a hate crime or need to report suspicious activity

SAN DIEGO — Urban Mo's is just one of a growing list of San Diego businesses with a blue “Safe Place” sticker up on its front window to designate that it is a location, where members of the LGBTQ community can feel safe to report hate crimes.

"The LGBTQ community continues to be regularly targeted, and far too often, victims of hate feel afraid or uncomfortable in contacting the police,” said Stephen Whitburn, San Diego City Council President Pro Tem.

In comes "The Safe Place Program,” the initiative to help San Diegans clearly identify businesses that are safe places for victims of a hate crime or how to report suspicious activity.

Chris Shaw, owner of Urban Mo's on University in the heart of Hillcrest was first to join the program and put up the sticker.

"I'm truly honored to be the first business. Urban MO's is honored to be the first business to post the safe place decal,” Shaw said.

It's not your average sticker. It includes a QR code, where anyone can scan for more information on hate crimes and how to report them.

"We are going to ask the businesses to put the safe place signs in their windows if they are safe place, and I'm sure they all will agree to let people come in and know that they are safe there,” said Dr. Jennifer Campbell, San Diego City Council President.

San Diego isn't the first city to have the Safe Place Program.

“It models a sticker that has been developed by other police departments across the nation, but I wanted to expand on that,” said Officer Christine Garcia, SDPD LGBTQ Liaison.

SDPD has new procedures being developed now for how officers will use visual and verbal cues to become aware of an individual's gender identity.

"This also ensures that our bookings, our pat downs are performed in accordance with their preferred gender,” said San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit.

Some commented on how policing in the community has come a long way. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said San Diego will not be a place for hate.

“It is our collective responsibility to make sure that our friends and our neighbors are safe, so we are calling upon San Diegans as business owners to participate in this program,” Gloria said.