The signs, which feature a police department logo with a rainbow background, say, “This police station is designated a safe zone. … At all times, LGBT individuals will be treated with respect, compassion, and honesty.”
The police chief’s LGBT community advisory forum has spearheaded the campaign, which was touted at the panel’s meeting Monday, March 4. Law enforcement officials have acknowledged people may be reluctant to report incidents, especially those involving hook-up crimes. Those cases often involve someone being drugged, robbed, or attacked during a sexual encounter with a person they met in a bar or online. Police have said they want people to report incidents because it helps them spot patterns, distribute resources, and prevent future crimes.
Robbery victim Michael Celaya, 26, described his interaction with police in a recent interview. Celaya, who’s gay, said officers were “very helpful and quickly took my report.”
The incident started when he was walking home to the Mission district from the Lower Haight neighborhood at about 2:20 a.m. February 19.
At 17th and Dolores streets, he passed a white sedan that was parked but idling. The lights were off and the windows were dark.
A man jumped out, punched Celaya, and stole his cellphone. A second man stole his credit cards and about $20 in cash. A third man also got out of the car but didn’t attack him, Celaya said.
A passerby drove Celaya, who suffered a fractured nose and lacerations, to the Mission police station, where one of the safe zone signs is currently posted. He wasn’t able to provide detailed descriptions of the men who attacked him but said they appeared to be in their late teens to mid-20s.
City officials have expressed concern over a spate of street robberies targeting cellphones in recent months.
Celaya acknowledged the trend and said, “You have to really watch out for yourself.”