FULL HOLD – It is a simple notion that links directly to the twin principles of equality and justice that no one anywhere should have to fear to be exactly who they are.
He’s also the driving force behind Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey, who yesterday announced the launch of the MCPO’s LGBTQ + Law Enforcement Liaison Program and the SAFE PLACE Program, two new initiatives aimed at to foster improved relations between the LGBTQ + community and law enforcement in Monmouth County, such as and provide individuals belonging to federally protected classes with safe places from which to report incidents of bias and / or hate crimes.
“Like New Jersey as a whole, Monmouth County is a vibrant and diverse place where people from countless different backgrounds come to live, work and visit,” Acting Attorney Linskey said. “Each of them deserves to feel safe and welcome here, and we plan to do everything in our power to make sure they always do.”
Gathered for yesterday’s announcement from local elected officials and police chiefs, numerous LGBTQ + law enforcement liaison officers from across the state, as well as members of the MCPO’s executive leadership and Acting New Jersey Attorney General Andrew Bruck – the first member of the LGBTQ + community to serve as Garden State’s Chief Law Enforcement Officer.
“Initiatives like these empower members of the LGBTQ + community by letting them know they have allies everywhere,” said Bruck. “I commend Acting Attorney Linskey for her leadership in bringing these meaningful programs to Monmouth County.”
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Through the MCPO’s LGBTQ + Law Enforcement Liaison Program, the prosecutor’s office hopes that many of the more than 50 law enforcement agencies across the county will appoint a liaison service; the designated person can be any sworn or civilian employee who identifies as LGBTQ + (or as an ally) and wishes to serve as a point of connection between law enforcement and the local LGBTQ + community. Liaisons will then work with these communities to resolve issues and to support MCPO’s service to the public.
The responsibilities of a liaison officer will also include, among others:
- With the approval of the supervisor, attend events in the LGBTQ + community as a representative of the MCPO;
- Meet and provide a forum for business owners, community groups, schools and members of the LGBTQ + community, and present information on relevant law enforcement / community issues;
- Familiarize yourself with the Attorney General’s Bias Incident Investigation Standards and the definitions of bias incidents and related criminal offenses in accordance with the NJSA 2C: 16-1 (a) (1) or (2);
- Assist, advise and consult with MCPO prosecutors and deputy detectives on cases involving the LGBTQ + community or LGBTQ + issues;
- Provide support, upon request, to LGBTQ + staff members;
- Provide diversity training, with supervisor approval, at the Monmouth County Police Academy or other forums as requested; and
- Provide an annual report to the Monmouth County Attorney’s Office on the liaison post’s activities and public safety trends related to the LGBTQ + community.
The Liaisons will also participate in the local implementation of MCPO SAFE PLACE, a public-private partnership focused on reporting incidents of prejudice and hate crimes targeting any protected category of individuals – whether they are motivated by race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexuality. orientation, gender identity or expression or ethnic origin. Through the program, participating local businesses, social organizations and schools will receive brightly colored stickers to display prominently in an entrance area, letting anyone who spots them know that the location will provide a safe environment for them to be. someone can call 911 for assistance if they believe they have been the target of a stigma incident or hate crime.
The New Jersey Bias Bullying Act is enforced whenever it is determined that an underlying crime has been committed for the purpose of intimidating an individual or group of individuals because one or several of them are members of one of the aforementioned protected classes. The degree of intimidation of bias charge is one degree higher than that of the most serious underlying charge.
Any local business, social organization or school in Monmouth County can participate in the program for free. The only requirement is twofold: if a victim of a crime (especially a hate crime) enters the premises, call 911 immediately; and allow the victim to remain at the scene until the police arrive.
The SAFE PLACE program was first introduced by the Seattle Police Department in 2015, with more than 7,000 sites across the city participating by 2019. Today, they sanction police departments across the country by replicating the program in their jurisdictions; MCPO is 293rd such an agency in the United States, Canada or Europe to launch its own version.
“Too often initiatives of this nature involve a lot of talk and a lack of action – which is why we are so excited that this announcement was just the first step towards something much bigger.” , said Acting Prosecutor Linskey. “Through these two programs, members of our office and local police departments will connect and build relationships in their local communities. They will listen to their constituents, have meaningful conversations and make real positive changes. Making this stuff possible is precisely why I took on this job.
The SAFE PLACE program will be piloted with the cooperation of municipal management and Asbury Park, Long Branch and Red Bank Police Departments, but participation will ultimately be open to all locations in the county.
Most of the first eight volunteer liaison officers from the prosecutor’s office – a group that includes investigators and deputy prosecutors – attended Wednesday’s event, which included the hoisting of a pride flag at the main entrance from the office. It will remain in place until Monday, October 11 – National Coming Out Day 2021.
If your business, social organization, or school is interested in participating in MCPO SAFE PLACE, contact the Monmouth County Attorney’s Office at [email protected] or your local police department.