Bellevue police partner with businesses to start safe place program

Bellevue police recently met with Bank of America representatives to recognize the new safe place program.

On June 19, Bellevue police and city staff met with Bank of America representatives at the branch on Northeast 4th Street to commemorate their partnership in the Bellevue Safe Place Initiative as part of Pride Month.

The program partners the Bellevue Police Department with businesses around the city to mark several commercial locations as safe places where staff are trained to assist victims of anti-LGBTQ crimes. Officer and program administrator Molly McCormack said BPD saw the success of the program in other communities and wanted to implement it in their jurisdiction.

“Especially on the Eastside, the LGBTQ community it is still kind of seen as closeted and I think bringing the program over to the Eastside is an extension of inclusivity and showing that the Eastside is out and proud,” she said. “Likewise, the allies and the participants in the community and business are here to support the community, advocate for the community and ultimately call 911 if someone is being victimized for a bias-related crime.”

The program began in 2016 with the Seattle Police Department partnering with businesses to establish these officially designated locations, she said. Last year the Bellevue City Council approved the police to begin work on the program and the department has been working with businesses to establish a large variety of safe place locations around the community.

Police have partnered with Bank of America, Starbucks and 19 other independent businesses throughout the city. That number, McCormack said, is constantly increasing. The police are also working to implement this program alongside the Bellevue School District as well.

“Once we launch completely with Bank of America and Starbucks, we will have about 50 locations in Bellevue at least, by the end of June or July,” McCormack said.

Kerri Schroeder, market president for Bank of America Seattle, said that they initially partnered with Seattle police during their implementation of the program in 2016 and were very excited to see it come out to the Eastside.

“Diversity and inclusion is one of our key values as a corporation and we really want all of our employees across the Puget Sound region to feel that they can bring their whole selves to work,” she said. “We serve a very diverse client base as well and making sure that we are providing resources for that community and showing support is important to us.”

The program itself is very simple, Schroeder said. All of the employees in the seven financial centers across Bellevue have been trained by police on the proper response to follow if someone comes to their business in need of help.

“All of our employees have been trained by the BPD on how to respond if they a have a victim of a bias crime or somebody from the community that feels threatened and comes into one of our financial centers,” she said. “They are trained to call 911, to be the translator of information back to the police department, and to provide safe harbor for that person. So just give them a safe place to stay and rest and wait for help to arrive.”

The point of the training is to be simple, McCormack said. As direction gets more complicated, it becomes far easier to get lost, so the employees across the city have been taught when to call 911 and how to get the appropriate resources to their location, such as police, EMS or fire.

Bellevue business owners who would like to contact the police department to discuss participation in the program can visit

Representatives from the city, police department and Bank of America on Northeast 4th Street gather to put up the Safe Place Program signs and stickers in the front window. Evan Pappas/staff photo

Representatives from the city, police department and Bank of America on Northeast 4th Street gather to put up the Safe Place Program signs and stickers in the front window. Evan Pappas/staff photo