In recent times, when division and intolerance seem omnipresent, it's both commendable and essential to spotlight the laudable steps some take in fostering an environment of safety and inclusiveness.
Today, I am proud to draw attention to one such initiative: the Safe Place Program, a collaborative effort by the Wilton Manors Police Department (WMPD) and our local business community. Notably, this program was brought to our attention for consideration by a resident of our city, Jake Valentine, serving as example of the collaborative relationship between our police and residents the city strives for.
Starting Oct. 1, many of our local businesses have generously transformed their premises into sanctuaries for residents and visitors who find themselves victimized by hate, bias, or harassment. They will provide a safe place for residents and visitors who have been victims of bias, harassment or hate to report crimes if they do not feel comfortable going directly to the police department. It resonates with the message that our community stands united, promoting empathy, security, and respect for all. It’s also consistent with our recent declaration of the Island City as an LGBTQ+ Sanctuary City.
Residents curious about the businesses that have already joined this noble cause will recognize names such as SunServe, Sardi Cafe Lounge, Infinity, among many others. A comprehensive list of all participating businesses can be found at [https://www.wiltonmanors.gov/872/Safe-Place-Program]
Furthermore, I wish to appeal to other businesses in our community: it's not too late to be a part of this transformative program. Enrolling is simple and can be done through the same website. By doing so, businesses not only bolster the safety network of our community but also send a clear, unwavering message that they prioritize the well-being of every individual above all else.
The Safe Place Program, with its emphasis on unity, inclusivity, and proactive community involvement, serves as a shining example of what communities can achieve when they come together with a shared vision and purpose.
I am profoundly grateful to Jake Valentine, the WMPD, all the participating businesses, and the individuals working diligently behind the scenes to turn this vision into a reality. Together, we are not merely a community; we are a resounding statement that hate will find no foothold in our midst.
- Chris Caputo, Wilton Manors Commissioner
Available via text at 954.557.2801