San Jose launches Safe Places program, gives victims a safe place to report crimes

San Jose Police launched a new program today to combat hate and harassment. It works in partnership with local businesses, giving victims a safe place to report crimes. 

The businesses will display Safe Place decals indicating are participating. 

Brian Murphy of Wells Fargo Bank says, "It's simple. It's an extension of what we would already do if somebody was in trouble. They would come into our branch, and we would let them stay there until help arrives."

All 25 Wells Fargo Bank branches in San Jose will have the Safe Place stickers and so will 62 San Jose Starbucks locations. 

Employees will be taught to comfort and make a 911 call on the victim's behalf. 

Tim Dubenko with Starbucks says, "Over the course of the next week all of our safe place decals will be posted at all of our stores. Partners will be trained on how the program works."

San Jose Police modeled the program after one that started in Seattle in 2015. There, the department saw increased reporting of hate crimes as a result. Chief Eddie Garcia believes it might have the same impact here.

Garcia says, "It shows that we're in this together, this is not just a police department issue. And the fact that we're partnering with corporations tells everybody that this city, not just this police department, this city will not tolerate hate crimes."

The program will combat hates of all kinds. The LGBTQ community says it is a step in the right direction and hasn't come a moment too soon.

Gabrielle Antolovich of the Billy Defrank LGBTQ Community Center says "I think it has been needed all along. And because of all the extra hate that is going on, thank goodness people are taking action."

SJPD hopes the program will expand soon with other businesses wanting to apply to become safe places too.