DUBLIN, Ohio (WCMH) — Officials in Dublin have launched a community-based program to create safe havens for city residents in times of crisis.
The new Safe Space Dublin program, implemented for the first time in November, provides new opportunities for people to report hate crimes, threats, or other incidents of intimidation that city leaders believe will help create a community of inclusion.
“We felt like there was an opportunity for the community to come together to take care of members of our community or visitors to our community,” Dublin Police Chief Justin Páez said.
Safe Space Dublin creates locations across the city where people in need can find myriad resources from community allies.
“[Community members] can enter any of those established locations and [connect] with somebody who is there, in that environment, who can hear them, can call the right resource for them, or connect them to the support resources that are part of the Safe Space Dublin program,” Páez said.
The creation of Safe Space Dublin comes on the heels of a November town hall discussion, in which Dublin law enforcement and other community leaders spoke about improving mental health and accepting cultural differences.
“Really gives us an opportunity to engage with the community members and to understand and hear perspectives that are unique to the climate and culture here in Dublin,” Páez said.
Every city building and Washington Township Fire Department station now operate as Safe Space Dublin locations, Páez said, but the program’s identifiable stickers can be found outside businesses across Dublin.
“No one should ever feel that they don’t have a voice in their community,” Dublin police officer Scott Brown said. “And nobody should ever feel left out of their community because of who they worship, what they look like, who they love.”
Brown is a school resource officer at Dublin Scioto High School. He also trains Dublin businesses on the program’s response protocol.
“Some of it is step-by-step,” Brown said. “What they may experience when somebody comes in, we’ll have some questions that they can ask.”
For those not comfortable speaking to someone in person, Brown said the Safe Space Dublin gives a voice to those who otherwise may go unheard.
“Scanning that QR code on the sticker, they can get resources without interacting with anybody,” Brown said. ”So, it’s a way they will be able to get help and have a voice without even having to interact if they choose to.”
Brown said business owners in Dublin have been overwhelmingly supportive of the program, with more and more companies signing up to participate each day.
For more information on Safe Space Dublin, links to resources and for a list of participating businesses, click here.