LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Louisville Police Adopt Seattle Safe Harbor Initiative For LGBTQ Protection


Victims of anti-LGBTQ crime in Louisville can now go to Starbucks' coffee shops to seek safety and await police assistance.

The newly announced Safe Harbor initiative is a collaboration between Starbucks and the Louisville Metro Police Department. Local police officials adopted the concept from the Seattle Police Department.

In Seattle, the program is administered by Officer Jim Ritter. He said Louisville is the first American police department outside of Seattle to fully adopt the program. About 30 other police agencies across the country are in the process of rolling out similar programs, Ritter said.

The idea is simple: If a person is a victim of an anti-LGBTQ crime they can go to a local Starbucks, alert the staff of the situation and then await for police to respond accordingly, said LMPD Chief Steve Conrad.

LMPD's LGBTQ liason, Officer Johnny Burgraff, is in the process of training store managers to properly respond to victims' needs.

With the initiative in place, it's likely the number of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes being reported will increase, Ritter said. And that's the goal, in part.

"If we don't know these crimes are going on we can't devote the resources to dealing with the problems," he said.

The boost in reports, however, isn't expected to be much of a burden on police, he added.

"They respond to 911 calls all the time and hate crimes are another type of crime they respond to," he said.

In Louisville, police data show three anti-LGBTQ hate crimes have occurred this calendar year. One of those reports stemmed from a campaign rally in March for now president-elect Donald Trump, the data show. The other two reports originated near Fern Creek High School and at Pleasure Ridge Park High School.

The cost to the LMPD is minimal, said Burgraff. The department purchases stickers and posters to place inside stores to alert residents of the program.

The benefits, however, are great, said Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, a Louisville-based group that advocates for civil rights legislation to prohibit discrimination based on sexual or gender identity.

"This is the type of thing that makes Louisville great and makes Louisville inclusive," he said. "These are the types of programs that make our Commonwealth great."