Law Enforcement Participation

The Seattle Police Department encourages law enforcement agencies to replicate the SPD Safe Place Initiative in their jurisdiction.  This includes the use of the official rainbow shield, and information contained on the SPDSafePlace.com website.  We do ask that the Seattle Police Department is credited and/or recognized in documentation and any media coverage as the originating agency and you make a commitment to the Safe Place principles.

The SPD SAFE PLACE concept is specifically a law enforcement initiative - meaning it only works when local law enforcement actively manages the program.  It should not be overseen, implemented, funded, controlled, or otherwise 'handed off to' community members, social organizations, advocates, activists, or politicians.  

The SPD SAFE PLACE Initiative has Two Essential Components

  1 - The Business Component 

This involves direct collaboration between the police, businesses and community organizations.

Participating groups that wish to display the SPD SAFE PLACE decal must train their staff to do the following:

  • Call 911 immediately on behalf of any victim, regardless of the crime
  • Allow the victim to remain inside until the police arrive

NOTE: Participants are not to forcibly keep victims within the premise, nor are they to confront suspects outside the establishment.  If the victim leaves prior to police arrival, the employees are to re-contact 911 and give a direction of travel and the victim and suspect description. 

2 - Addressing Student Bullying 

This involves direct collaboration between the police and the schools.  This is a free and voluntary initiative for all schools. Participating school districts must:

  • Post the SPD SAFE PLACE decal at the front entrance and the main office of the school.
  • The school must train their staff, employees and any volunteers to immediately document and report any allegations of student bullying and/or crimes to school officials and/or police.
  • The participating school must allow the student to remain inside the reporting location with a responsible and trusted adult, until school officials and/or police arrive.

Why Get Your Agency Involved in Safe Place?

The SPD SAFE PLACE Initiative can help with the following issues:

  • Increases in bias crimes, crimes with bias elements, bias incidents & student bullying, (both perceived and actual increases).
  • Significant under-reporting and/or non-reporting of bias crimes, crimes with bias elements, bias incidents and student bullying.
  • Inconsistent, confusing and/or non-existent protocol and training on identifying, defining, reporting and statistically categorizing bias crimes, crimes with bias elements, bias incidents and student bullying. (Locally and Nationwide).
  • Misinformation, and/or confusion regarding the calling of 911.
  • Misinformation, inconsistencies, and/or confusion surrounding definitions of bias crimes, crimes with bias elements, bias incidents, student bullying and/or free speech.
  • The frustration and disconnect between minority communities, businesses, law enforcement agencies, and social organizations regarding increases in crime, police response, lack of police resources, and the resulting loss of business revenue.
  • Lack of effective communication between members of minority communities and law enforcement, businesses, schools, and government leaders.  
  • Continuing (and often unreported) school bullying incidents resulting from student reluctance or skepticism that school officials and/or police will take bullying allegations seriously.
  • Lack of a specific law enforcement where the public can find current, and useful information regarding bias crimes, student bullying and associated resources.
  • Improvement of law enforcement's understanding of minority community issues, and improved training of officers on socially sensitive topics.  

How to make the SAFE PLACE initiative successful

Trust and follow-through are the key. The SPD SAFE PLACE initiative only works if the victims of hate crimes and the community in general believes in and trusts the program.  Trust comes when a victim observes and experiences that sincere effort is being made by all parties involved to keep their safety the paramount concern.

Everything must work together - if law enforcement or schools fail to educate and train their staff to properly document these incidents, if businesses don't train their employees to call 911 or shelter victims until the police arrive, if the media doesn't educate the public about the spirit behind this initiative - then SPD SAFE PLACE will only be a colorful decal without meaning behind it.  Victims won't know or trust the symbol as a place to seek help, nor trust law enforcement enough to report the crimes. 

Staffing & Representation

For the SPD SAFE PLACE initiative to function as designed, the law enforcement agency must assign a liaison officer, deputy and/or agent (either part or full-time) to promote, coordinate, respond to community concerns and coordinate this Initiative. 

The employee assigned to oversee SPD SAFE PLACE should be:

  • Energetic and fully committed to the spirit of this initiative.
  • Fully understand and can explain the SPD SAFE PLACE concept, mission and goals to other officers and/or deputies, businesses, community organizations and schools within their jurisdiction. 
  • Be an excellent public speaker, and have a proven record within the organization as being reliable, and able to communicate effectively with a variety of groups and audiences.  

The liaison officer should be given the flexibility to: 

  • Respond to public and media inquiries about SPD SAFE PLACE and other community concerns.
  • Respond to SPD SAFE PLACE requests and distribute decals to businesses, schools or other organizations.
  • Collaborate with the agency's bias crimes detective and community resource officers when bias crimes or incidents occur.
  • Host educational community meetings.
  • Educate the public and other law enforcement agencies in the area about what SPD SAFE PLACE is and what it represents.

Training for Officers and Deputies

Prior to publicly announcing your agency's participation in the SPD SAFE PLACE Initiative, you must train sworn and civilian staff in the mission and goals of the SPD SAFE PLACE, and what it is designed to accomplish.  

The training should highlight: 

  • The importance of officers re-connecting and establishing relationships with the community 
  • Understanding the correct use of pronouns and terminology in the LGBTQ community (See our Training Videos page for specific training)
  • Issues and history between specific minority communities and law enforcement
  • Understanding what constitutes bias crimes, crimes with bias elements and/or bias incidents.
  • The importance of effectively documenting incidents even if they do not rise to the level of a crime; and understanding that effective community policing requires a commitment to proactively and productively engage with the community they serve.        

Training for Businesses, Organizations and Schools

Option 1 Face to Face Contact

The ideal way to train premise owners/managers is meet them face to face when providing and placing the decals.  

  • This allows you to foster and effective bond between the liaison officer, premise owners, community leaders or school officials.
  • By meeting those who are responsible for training employees, staff and volunteers, you can make sure they are well-versed on the responsibilities with becoming a SPD SAFE PLACE participant. 

Option 2 Create a Training Packet

Sometimes face to face meetings aren't realistic or feasible, especially if the programs participants starts growing.  An alternative is mailing an informational packet.  The packet should include:

  • The SAFE PLACE decal(s) as long as the online decal application form is authorized, that the applicant indicates they have read, understood and accepted the agreement (box on form) 
  • A training document it included that explains decal application, employee training and additional information about SPD SAFE PLACE. 

Public Messaging:

The SPD SAFE PLACE concept is designed to encourage the reporting of bias crimes or incidents.  It helps to develop a universal message to address the communities concerns regarding the perception of increased reporting.  If adopting SPD SAFE PLACE increases the community trust to report crimes, it may lead to an increase in bias/hate crime reports.  It is important to message this to the public - that this does not necessarily mean there are more hate crimes occurring in your jurisdiction, but instead crimes that would have gone unreported are now known about.   

Ordering the Safe Place Decal for your Agency:

To maintain consistent branding, SPD has trademarked the SPD Safe Place symbol, which is the traditional badge shape with the rainbow colors. 

SPD welcomes, authorizes, and encourages other law enforcement agencies that commit to the Safe Place principles to replicate SPD's SAFE PLACE design, while placing its agency's name and website address on the decal.   

If working with your own printer here are specifications that will help you. 

  • 4" X 6" full color decal.
  • Either digital or conventional/10 mil matte/4 color process on (both sides) with fade resistant ink
  • Apply 1.7 mil gloss ZZ/UVI polyester laminate to one side
  • Apply perm adhesive to the other side with a clear liner with a pull tab for easy removal of the liner.   
  • These materials use a synthetic substrate that will not curl or warp from moisture or humidity.  Both types are protected from fading from sunlight with either laminate or fade-resistant inks.    

SPD is happy to connect law enforcement agencies with SPD's SAFE PLACE printer, that can provide you a prototype decal with your agency's name, and website on the decal (note: the printer charges a small fee for the sample). 

Contact: Officer Jim Ritter SPD SAFE PLACE Coordinator 

Seattle Police Community Outreach Section

James.ritter@seattle.gov 206-437-3860  

Website Development:

The decals for SPD SAFE PLACE direct community members to a website that is specifically designed to:

  • Clearly explain what the mission of the SPD SAFE PLACE Initiative
  • Bring attention to the importance of calling 911
  • Defines what bias crimes are, and what they are not
  • Provide an on-line community input form that goes directly to the agency's Liaison Officer for immediate action and follow-up 
  • Allow businesses to sign up for SPD SAFE PLACE participation on-line
  • Provide community-based resource information
  • Link citizens to the law enforcement agency's general website.

Important Notes:


NO RESIDENTIAL USE

Most hate crimes occur in business districts where there are multiple employees, security cameras, customers and witnesses are present adding an extra layer of safety for the victims.  Since residences do not have these built-in safety features, residential locations are NOT authorized to participate in SPD SAFE PLACE.

MEDICAL CARE FACILITIES AND HOSPITALS

Although the SPD SAFE PLACE initiative has clear mandates for those wishing to participate, Federal (HIPPA) laws prevent medical facilities from disclosing patient information.  For this reason, hospitals and medical care providers are the only entities NOT MANDATED to call police on behalf of the victim, but are directed to STRONGLY ENCOURAGE the victim to report the incident to police.