The decal will be placed in windows of businesses, organizations and schools that take part in the program (Photo Submitted/Kitimat RCMP)

Kitimat RCMP look to introduce new program aimed at increasing safety for vulnerable people

The Safe Place program gives vulnerable persons a place to stay until police arrive

Kitimat RCMP are looking to introduce a new program to the area.

The Safe Place Program, which started in Vancouver, gives members of the LGBTQ2S+ community a place to go if they are feeling unsafe. If a person sees the “Safe Place” decal in a window it means the business, organization or school is a safe place to go to call the police and remain until officers arrive. The purpose of the program is to increase safety for vulnerable persons.

Currently, Safe Place is used in other communities around B.C. including Prince Rupert. According to Statistics Canada, in 2014, 155 hate crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation were reported. That number continued to rise as Statistics Canada’s data shows that there were 259 such crimes reported in 2020.

“The statistics for Kitimat show that there have been two hate crimes committed between Jan. 1, 2020 and Nov. 17, 2021,” said Const. Brittany Caldwell.

“These hate crimes were not targeting members of the LGBTQ2S+ community.”

“Just because there aren’t reported occurrences of hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, this does not mean they do not happen.”

There is an application and verification process if an organization is looking to join this program.

“The verification process for the Safe Places program will involve contacting businesses/schools/organizations before distributing decals and posters to ensure they fully acknowledge the attestation on the application,” said Caldwell.

There is also a commitment pledge that is agreed upon when the decal is placed in the window. This pledge ensures employees are instructed to assist the victims and/or witnesses to anti-LGBTQ2s+ crimes by calling the police on their behalf and allowing them to remain on the premises until police arrive.

RCMP may also remove the decal and the organization from the program if they find that they are not upholding the commitment pledge.