by Alexsandra Ruiz-Ortíz
Bank of America announced last week, prior to Denver’s PrideFest, that the company is participating in the Denver Police Department’s (DPD) Safe Place initiative.
Bank of America, already a Safe Place partner in Baltimore, Seattle, and Bellevue, WA, joins more than 200 other Denver businesses and organizations to offer a place of refuge for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ+) community, and anyone else experiencing violence or harassment.
“Valuing diversity among our employees and across the communities we serve is essential to fulfilling Bank of America’s purpose of making peoples’ financial lives better,” said Raju Patel, Denver Market president, Bank of America. “Diversity makes us stronger. It makes us better and allows us to achieve our business strategy and create thriving economies.”
“DPD Safe Place unites businesses and community organizations with law enforcement to help victims of bias-motivated crimes and together send a clear message that bias-motivated crimes will not be tolerated in Denver,” said Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen. “I want to thank Bank of America for standing with us to ensure the safety of our diverse communities.”
By placing a DPD Safe Place decal, which features a rainbow pride flag inside the shield of a police officer’s badge, on Bank of America’s window, it shows that anyone experiencing any form of hate crime that may exist in the city has a safe place to enter and wait for the Denver Police.
“The purpose of the program is to encourage the reporting of anti-LGBTQ bias-motivated crimes, reduce any LGBTQ bullying and harassment through public awareness, and provide a visible safe space for victims of crime to call the police,” explained Lt. Layla DeStaffany, one of two LGBTQ+ liaisons for DPD.
Organizations and businesses that participate in DPD’s Safe Place program must place a clearly visible Safe Place decal on their window and be an aid in calling the Denver Police to report the crime. With this, Bank of America will receive training by DPD’s LGBTQ+ liaison officer to call 911 if a bias crime occurs and to provide safe harbor within the financial center until police officers arrive.
Daniel Ramos, Executive Director of One Colorado, and Anthony Aragon, Denver PrideFest Parade Coordinator and founding board member of One Colorado, expressed their gratitude for Bank of America’s participation in DPD’s Safe Place as well as an appreciation for the Department’s Safe Place program.
“I’m really proud to stand here with the Denver Police Department, with the city of Denver, and Bank of America in support of the Safe Place [program],” stated Ramos. He described how the LGBTQ+ community continues to struggle with violence, hate, and discrimination, but places like Bank of America that “use their very powerful voice to take a stand, stand with the LGBTQ+ community, and send a really strong message that business is open to all.”
Aragon, who is also a Senior Advisor of Community Affairs for the Agency of Human Rights and Community Partnerships for the City and County of Denver stressed the importance of Denver’s noted success in strengthened diversity.
“I am no stranger to the challenges and successes of our LGBTQ+ community. Denver and Colorado prides itself on diversity in our communities, in our workplaces, and in our lives. Bank of America shares that pride,” said Aragon.
For more information of DPD’s Safe Place, please visit: www.dpdsafeplace.com.
Alexsandra Ruiz-Ortíz is an Independent Reporter for The Weekly Issue/El Semanario.
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