OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – In support of the LGBTQ+ community, Osceola County inaugurated a new program to let residents and tourists know what establishments are considered a safe place.
“No one deserves to be a victim of a crime and unfortunately there are minorities in our communities who don’t feel safe at all times to report crimes,” Sheriff Marcos López said about the newly created Safe Place Program launched by his office.
The Safe Place Program provides decals to businesses and organizations to display on their premises, as a symbol of safety and understanding for victims of crimes. Community leaders also say it sends a message that criminal activity against members of the LGBTQ+ community will not be tolerated.
“What we’re trying to do is say like — say you’re in this immediate area and you know that there’s a place that’s a safe place you’ve eaten here a few times, maybe you’re out here walking or jogging — you know you can run in here and say ‘hey, I need help,’” López said.
The first business to become part of the program is Miller’s Ale House in Kissimmee off of U.S 192.
“As an LGBTQ liaison I will assist in the distribution of our decals and awareness training for local businesses that wish to participate,” Ruth Marrero, a detective for the sheriff’s office said.
According to the Osceola sheriff’s office, the new public safety initiative is the first of its kind for the department.
“Although the majority of our residents embrace inclusiveness, members of my community face discrimination, threats, and danger every day. It is my belief that the new Safe Place Program that we’re revealing here today, will be a beacon of safety and understanding,” County Commissioner, Cheryl Grieb said.
Any business in Osceola County is welcomed to be part of the program. There is no fee to receive the decals available in English and Spanish. To join, businesses have to fill out an application on the sheriff’s website, which can be found here.