Milwaukee launches 'Safe Place' initiative for members of LGBTQ+ community

NOW: Milwaukee launches ’Safe Place’ initiative for members of LGBTQ+ community


MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee police announced a new safety initiative Monday that aims to better serve those in the LGBTQ+ community. The initiative is on the heels of the new Dahmer series on Netflix which recalls how trust was shattered back then. 

It was difficult for those in the LGBTQ+ community to trust police after they learned calls to gay serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer's home were cast aside. Thirty years later, there's been healing. This initiative is a continuation of that.

"I was in high school back when that whole situation had unfolded unfortunately, very dark times, but that was a different police department than what you have today," said Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman. 

Chief Norman told those gathered outside Iron Horse Hotel it's the first in Milwaukee to sign up for what's called a Safe Place. Businesses can voluntarily choose to take part, hanging a sticker to let the LGBTQ+ community know they're a safe place.

"You know, we all know in regards to some of our hotels and places in our city are places where they are victimized, and they need to know where can they turn to," said Chief Norman.

This summer, two transgender women were brutally murdered in Milwaukee -- Mya Allen was shot near 26th and Wells in August and Brazil Johnson near Teutonia and Garfield in June. 

"It's unfortunate that we still have to always look out for our safety because of stuff like this happening, but it's good to know that the police are working together with us," said Jessica Katzenmeyer, Democratic state Senate candidate for District 5.

It's about healing a hurt. Some 30 years after police missed the mark on initial reports that might have spared some gay men from being slaughtered at Jeffrey Dahmer's home, police have their own LGBTQ+ liaison. And Mayor Cavalier Johnson joins the chief in saying times have changed.

"The city's stance and support of the LGBTQ community has never been stronger as it relates to support from the mayor's office as well as from the Milwaukee Police Department," said Mayor Johnson.

The true test -- how do those living it day-to-day feel about the way they're treated today?

"There's always gonna be some weariness when it comes to that. Dahmer is a good example of that, but I think this is a good step because it gives businesses a chance to get involved," said Jacob Lang, who's a member of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Businesses wanting to get involved can get a free decal from the city by clicking here

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