Monmouth prosecutor launches LGBTQ+ law enforcement liaison and Safe Place programs

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Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey has announced the launch of two programs: the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office LGBTQ+ Law Enforcement Liaison program and the Safe Place program.

According to a press release from Linskey’s office, the two new initiatives are intended to foster improved relations between the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning communities, and others, and law enforcement in Monmouth County, and to provide individuals belonging to federally protected classes safe places from which to report bias incidents and/or hate crimes.

“Like New Jersey at large, Monmouth County is a vibrant, diverse place where
individuals hailing from countless different backgrounds come to live, work and visit,”
Linskey was quoted as saying in the press release. “Every single one of them deserves to feel safe and welcomed here, and we plan to do everything in our power to ensure they always do.”

Gathering for the recent announcement at the prosecutor’s office in Freehold Township were local elected officials and police chiefs, LGBTQ+ law enforcement liaisons from across the state, members of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office executive leadership and Acting New Jersey Attorney General Andrew Bruck, the first member of the LGBTQ+ community to serve as the Garden State’s chief law enforcement officer, according to the press release.

“Initiatives like these empower members of the LGBTQ+ community by letting them know they have allies everywhere,” Bruck said. “I applaud Acting Prosecutor Linskey for her leadership in bringing these meaningful programs to Monmouth County.”

Through the LGBTQ+ Law Enforcement Liaison program, the prosecutor’s office is hopeful that many of the more than 50 law enforcement agencies across the county will designate a department liaison, according to the press release.

The designee may be any sworn or civilian employee who identifies as LGBTQ+ (or as an ally) and wishes to serve as a connection point between law enforcement and the local LGBTQ+ community.

The liaisons will collaborate with those communities to address issues of concern and to support the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office service to the public, according to the press release.

A liaison’s responsibilities will include attending events in the LGBTQ+ community as a
representative of the prosecutor’s office; meeting with and providing a forum for business owners, community groups, schools and members of the LGBTQ+ community, and presenting information about relevant law enforcement/community issues; assisting, advising and consulting with assistant prosecutors and detectives on cases involving the LGBTQ+ community or LGBTQ+ issues; and providing support, upon request, to LGBTQ+ staff members.

The liaisons will also participate in the local implementation of Safe Place, a public-private partnership centered on the reporting of bias incidents and hate crimes targeting any protected class of individuals – whether motivated by race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or ethnicity, according to the press release.

Through the Safe Place program, local participating businesses, social organizations and schools will be given brightly colored decals to post in an entrance area, allowing anyone who spots the decals to know the location will provide a safe environment for someone to call 911 for assistance if they believe they have been the target of a bias incident or a hate crime, according to the press release.

New Jersey’s bias intimidation statute is applied whenever an underlying crime is determined to have been committed with a “purpose to intimidate an individual or
group of individuals” because one or more of them are members of any of the
aforementioned protected classes, according to the press release.

The degree of the bias intimidation charge is one degree higher than the degree of the most serious underlying charge.

Every local business, social organization and school in Monmouth County is eligible to participate in the program free of charge. The only requirements are twofold: if a victim of any crime (especially a hate crime) enters the premises, call 911 immediately; and allow the victim to remain on the premises until police arrive, according to the press release.

The Safe Place program will be piloted with the cooperation of the municipal leadership and police departments of Asbury Park, Long Branch and Red Bank. Participation ultimately will be open to all locations countywide, according to the press release.

If a business, social organization or school is interested in participating in Safe Place, contact the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at SafePlace@mcponj.org or the local police department.