MONMOUTH COUNTY – Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey has announced two brand new initiatives to the office that will enhance the relations between the LGBTQ+ community and law enforcement in Monmouth County.
The MCPO LGBTQ+ Law Enforcement Liaison Program and the SAFE PLACE Program will 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 said. “Every single one of them deserves to feel safe and welcomed here, and we plan to do everything in our power to ensure that they always do.”
On October 6, local elected officials and police chiefs, several LGBTQ+ Law Enforcement Liaisons from across the state, as well as members of MCPO 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, all gathered for the announcement.
“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.”
The concept of the MCPO LGBTQ+ Law Enforcement Liaison Program is to have more than 50 law-enforcement agencies across the county designate a department Liaison. Then the designee may be any sworn or civilian employee who identifies as LGBTQ+, or as an ally, and become a “connection point” between law enforcement and the local LGBTQ+ community.
In addition, the collaboration will allow these communities to address issues of concern and support MCPO’s service to the public.
A Liaison’s responsibilities will also include, among other things:
- With supervisory approval, attend events in the LGBTQ+ community as a representative of the MCPO;
- Meet with 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;
- Become fully familiar with the Attorney General’s Bias Incident Investigation Standards and the definitions of bias incidents and related criminal violations pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1(a)(1) or (2);
- Assist, advise, and consult with MCPO Assistant Prosecutors and Detectives on cases involving the LGBTQ+ community or LGBTQ+ issues;
- Provide support, upon request, to LGBTQ+ staff members;
- Provide diversity trainings, with supervisory approval, at the Monmouth County Police Academy or in other forums, upon request; and
- Provide an annual report to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office on activities of the Liaison position and public safety trends related to the LGBTQ+ community.
Liaisons will also take part in MCPO SAFE PLACE, a public-private partnership focused on the reporting of bias incidents and hate crimes targeting any protected class of individuals. Whether it is motivated by race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or ethnicity, it will be reported.
Local businesses, organizations and schools can participate and provide a safe spot for that individual to call 911 for assistance for a targeted hate crime. Any local business in Monmouth County can join the program for free.
First introduced by the Seattle Police Department in 2015, the SAFE PLACE program has more than 7,000 locations.
Today they sanction police departments nationwide in replicating the program in their jurisdictions; MCPO is the 293rd such agency in the U.S., Canada, or Europe to launch its own version.
“Too often, initiatives of this nature involve a wealth of talk and a dearth of action – that’s why we’re so enthusiastic about the fact that this announcement was just the first step toward something much bigger,” Linskey said. “Through these two programs, members of our Office and local police departments will be reaching out and making connections in their local communities. They’ll be listening to their constituents, having meaningful conversations, and effecting actual positive change. Making things like this possible is precisely why I took this job.”
The program will be managed with the assistance of the municipal leadership and police departments of Asbury Park, Long Branch, and Red Bank, although participation ultimately will be open to all locations countywide.
A majority of the Prosecutor’s Office eight inaugural volunteer Law Enforcement Liaisons attended the special event on October 6 where a Pride flag was raised at the Office’s main entrance and stayed up until October 11, which is National Coming Out Day 2021.
If your business, social organization, or school is interested in participating in MCPO SAFE PLACE, contact the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at SafePlace@mcponj.org or your local police department.