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Miami Police Reiterate Dedication To Protecting LGBT Community

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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) -- Modeled after a similar initiative in Seattle, Miami's top cop is sending a message that the city is a welcoming and safe place, ready to protect those who feel vulnerable in the community.

The Safe Place Initiative provides victims, particularly individuals of the LGBTQ community, who may have been subjected to a hate crime or harassment, a safe location to seek assistance.

"It's organic community-policing," said Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes. "We're partnering with businesses in our community to provide a safe space for people who are vulnerable."

Ready for distribution, police showed off the colorful symbol designating businesses as a safe place -- a place of refuge for victims of violence and harassment, and a place where they can be protected until police arrive.

"Individuals who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and/or questioning are prone to becoming targets of hate crimes," said Llanes.

Last year, two men were attacked at the Whopper Bar in Miami Beach after they kissed inside. The city already has it's own Safe Place program putting the colorful decals on businesses earlier this year.

In Miami, while police say there've been no reports of hate-related crimes in the city in 20 years, they want to be proactive.

"This will act a deterrent, we don't want to wait for that one incident to occur. We want to be ahead of the game and try to prevent these crimes from happening," said Christopher Bess, a spokesman for the Miami Police Department.

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