LANSING, Mich. — There are times when members of the LGBTQ community won't report crimes because they're afraid they won't be believed or the investigation will go nowhere.
That's why the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office is partnering with Fair Michigan on a program to encourage victims to speak up.
Fair Michigan is a non-profit corporation seeking to end discrimination against persons based on sex, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity.
The Fair Michigan Justice Project [fairmichigan.org] aims to help law enforcement officers and prosecutors in solving serious crimes against members of the LGBTQ community.
Even the first step which is reporting the crime can be difficult for victims.
"Either A: harassment has been made a part of their daily occurrence or they don't think to report that because unfortunately, so many hateful incidents have occurred. Or B: they may not feel like it's worth the time or that anything will happen to anyone," said Angela Tripi, Assistant Prosecutor for the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office.
Tripi will be the friendly face the community sees and interacts with.
"I'm going to be present for victims from right after their initial police contact, to the signing of the warrant, through the trial, through the plea, through the sentencing. That way they have complete clarity on what to expect, and also complete support," she said.
The project's special prosecutor will also do law enforcement training with the prosecutor's office to make sure they're being respectful and professional to victims.
"I believe that they're really going to be emphasizing different trigger words or different types of situations to really be aware of that could indicate a hateful or hate crime encounter," Tripi said.
"When people are coming forward after being harmed from a violent encounter or even intimidation of some sort, having a space where somebody has the language that is accepting and welcoming and kind and compassionate really can make a difference in whether or not that person is comfortable telling what has happened to them," said Erin Roberts, Senior Program Director of the Michigan Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.
The training with law enforcement and the prosecutor's office starts on May 31st.
FMJP has been successfully operating in Wayne County since 2016 in partnership with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. To date, FMJP has secured 23 convictions and maintains a 100% conviction rate.
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