MNPD considering Seattle PD’s LGBT Safe Place initiative in response to transgender shaming incident

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In October, we reported on nearly a dozen city employees of Nashville & Goodlettsville shaming a transgender citizen online, including taking secret photos of her. We’ve been tracking the progress of the investigations among all of the departments between both cities, and awaiting outcomes for those involved. We’ve learned of one response to the incident, by the Metro Nashville Police Department, that appears to be tone-deaf to the entire situation.

The incident, which you can read about here, included 6 Metro Nashville Police Officers (including 2 Sergeants), taking photos of, and shaming online, a transgender citizen of Nashville. However, one of the programs the department is looking to implement in response to the incident, has nothing to do with officer behavior. It is, perhaps, the most tone-deaf response to the incident that anyone could have imagine. It essentially says ‘yes, we did you wrong, so here’s a safe place to go if you need help from us’ – something that simply hasn’t proven to ever been an issue for the LGBT citizens of Nashville.

This new voluntary initiative, would put rainbow stickers on windows of businesses where a victim of any crime, especially anti-LGBTQ crimes, can come for assistance while waiting for police response. Although in response to the transgender shaming incident, this ‘resolution’ has nothing to do with the issue of officers shaming LGBT individuals. This new program simply gives individuals a ‘safe place’ to wait for one of those officers to arrive to assist them.

Specifically, the program, which was created by the Seattle Police Department, and is called ‘Safe Place’, sets up a citywide volunteer network of businesses and nonprofits committed to protecting LGBTQ individuals. Local managers and store owners register on the safe place website and receive a 4-by-6-inch, rainbow-striped sticker in the shape of a police badge. Installed on a street-facing window:

the sticker advises LGBTQ individuals that employees have pledged two things. First, to call 911 to report all crimes, and specifically when they witness a hate crime; and second, to allow victims to stay inside their business until police arrive.

MNPD confirmed to Scoop: Nashville that Lieutenant David Leavitt has been assigned to research and potentially implement the Safe Place Program in Nashville. Lt. David Leavitt will be assuming the role of the LGBT liaison in the coming weeks and months as the role is expanded to perhaps include an officer to assist Lt. Leavitt. The role of LGBT Liasion has been held by Midtown Hills Precinct Commander Kay Lokey for the past five years.

A representative of the Mayor’s office confirms a late November meeting with Officer Ritter of the Seattle Police Department’s Safe Place program. In January of 2017, the Louisville Metro Police Department was the first major police department outside of Seattle to implement in program. Los Angeles, CA & Orlando, FL have since implemented similar versions of the program in their cities.

A wider overview of the city’s response to the incident, including details from other departments, as well as the City of Goodlettsville, will be published on Monday 11/26/2018.

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