DALLAS — The Dallas Police Department and many business, organizations and more are coming together for the launch of the ‘Safe Place’ program. The program started in Seattle and hopes to help victims of crime with support from the community.
To participate, businesses simply place a ‘Safe Place’ decal in their window, which tells police and victims of crime two things, city officials say.
First, they will call 911 to report a crime, particularly if they witness it or a victim comes to their business. Second, they will allow victims to stay on their property until police arrive.
“This program is a collaborative effort between small businesses, large businesses, and the local community to come together and provide a safe haven for victims of hate crimes and also of any crime that has happened in the city of Dallas," Dallas Police Officer Megan Thomas said.
Italia Express on Cedar Springs in Oak Lawn was one of the first businesses to sign up.
“We should all be standing up for each other. We should all be protecting each other,” Italia Express Manager Charlie Reppas said. “It’s a beautiful idea. We totally support it.”
Dallas City Councilmember Chad West also supports the effort. He said he heard stories of hate crimes growing up as a young gay man and this program gives businesses a chance to step up to do their part to help.
“I find this program as providing that extra bit of feeling of safety in the city of Dallas,” West said. “This gives them an opportunity at no cost to them to be a safe haven, a place for people who are scared and who might be afraid to go their family or someone else they know, to find a place where they can have a sense of safety while the police get involved in the situation.”
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said it sends a strong message.
“The message that it sends out is that we’re in this together. This is not a DPD initiative, this is a city of Dallas initiative,” Garcia said. “We’re in this together and we’re not going tolerate hate and we’re going to ensure that our community and our most vulnerable know that they are going to be protected not just by the individuals wearing the uniform but by businesses and their partners and the rest of this community.”