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Safe Places Come To Denver, Offer Shelter

By Jennifer Brice

DENVER (CBS4)- Denver city leaders and members of the LGBTQ community announced the Safe Place program on Thursday. A safe place is a business that will provide shelter to someone who is being harassed, threatened, or attacked, especially someone who is of the LGBTQ community, while waiting for officers to arrive.

Any participating businesses will receive training on how to help a person in need and a sticker identifying the facility as a safe place.

The program began in Seattle about two years ago. It is now part of dozens of police departments, including Denver.

Denver police has its first ever LGBTQ liaison, Lieutenant Michael Wyatt, who says since he's been in the role he's learned there are plenty of LGBTQ hate crimes happening in the city.

"There were incidents occurring in Denver where members of the LGBTQ community were being harassed, intimidated and downright assaulted and many of those not coming to the police department attention and that is wrong."

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Denver Police Lt. Michael Wyatt (credit: CBS)

The businesses who chose to be a "safe place" will also train their employees on how to help a person in need.

Officers say, in many cases, hate crimes are often not reported and they want people to feel safe enough to come forward. Denver Police Chief Robert White hopes to change that.

"The fact that they (LGBTQ) as a community have expressed a concern and done it over, and over again... We had a responsibility to do something," said White.

Recently, the City of Denver also launched a safe haven program young people connected to gangs. When there is a gang-related crime, the nearest church is "activated" for three days for people to get emotional and mental wellness support. More than 20 churches have signed up for the program.

Jennifer Brice is a reporter with CBS4 focusing on crime and courts. Follow her on Facebook or on Twitter @CBS4Jenn.

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