More than 160 Members of Law Enforcement Meet in Albany for the New York Hate Crimes Investigation Seminar
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the State Police completed its New York State Hate Crimes Investigation Seminar at the State Police Academy in Albany. More than 160 members of law enforcement from the state, county and local level, along with district attorneys, gathered at the school on March 5 and 6 to hear from representatives of law enforcement experienced in investigating these types of crimes along with experts on the legal issues associated with bias crimes and training staff from the Anti-Defamation League. The event provided an opportunity for the attendees to receive training in identifying and investigating hate crimes in New York State, evidence procedures and available resources, along with tips on how to combat these type of activities in their communities.
“With the recent spike in hate crimes, it’s critically important that state and local law enforcement personnel get the latest training and most up-to-date information to aid in the investigation and prosecution of these heinous crimes,” Governor Cuomo said. “There is no place for hate in our state, and these trainings will ensure our response to bias related crimes remains swift.”
New York State Police Acting Superintendent Keith M. Corlett said, “The safety and security of all New Yorkers remains our top priority and we have zero tolerance for any individuals that perpetuate hate crimes within our communities. This seminar provides comprehensive and critical training to law enforcement and our community partners, which will assist them in investigating and solving hate crime cases. Equally important, the training provided investigators with crucial resources necessary to help prevent and combat such crimes.”
This training builds on Governor Cuomo’s ongoing initiatives to combat bias and discrimination. In 2016, the Governor created New York’s first Hate Crimes Task Force and shortly thereafter, he launched a Hate Crimes Text Line, enabling any New Yorker to easily report incidents in their community. Those who have experienced or witnessed bias or discrimination are encouraged to text “HATE” to 81336 with details of the incident, including photo or video documentation.
The text line is in addition to a toll-free telephone bias and discrimination hotline operated by the State Division of Human Rights (1-888-392-3644). Since its creation in November of 2016, the hotline has received more than 19,000 calls and has referred over 180 to the State Police for investigation into potential criminal conduct. In case of an emergency or if you are a victim of a crime, always dial 911. Initially, a $5,000 reward was made available for any information leading to an arrest and conviction for a hate crime. In 2017, the Governor partnered with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to jointly raise the reward to $20,000.
Governor Cuomo has also created a $25 million grant program to boost safety and security at New York’s schools and day care centers at risk of hate crimes or attacks because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. The grant program provides funding for additional security equipment and training needs, and is administered by the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
The New York State Office of Victim Services can provide reimbursement and compensation to victims of hate crimes. Recent changes to state law expanded the agency’s assistance to individuals who were not physically injured during the crime, widening the safety net provided by the agency. Prior to these changes, only victims of hate crimes who were physically injured could apply for assistance. For example, an individual who suffered broken bones during a hate crime-related assault has always been eligible for compensation. Someone traumatized by extensive damage done to their home because of a hate crime, however, had been ineligible for assistance to pay for counseling and/or crime scene cleanup because they did not suffer physical harm; this is no longer the case.
OVS also funds more than 220 programs statewide that provide direct services, such as crisis intervention and counseling, to victims of crimes, including hate crimes. The agency also funds crime victim advocates assigned to State Police troops across the state. These advocates and staff from other funded programs can help any crime victim apply for compensation and other assistance from the Office of Victim Services, which is a safety net for individuals who have no other resources. Individuals seeking help from OVS also can search for a service provider online: https://ovs.ny.gov/locate-program. For more information, please visit: www.ovs.ny.gov.
Under state law, a person commits a hate crime when one of a specified set of offenses is committed targeting a victim because of a perception or belief about their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation, or when such an act is committed as a result of that type of perception or belief. Hate crimes can be perpetrated against an individual, a group of individuals or against public or private property. Also, under state law, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion, ethnicity and many other protected classifications.
New York has the proud distinction of being the first state in the nation to enact a Human Rights Law, affording every citizen “an equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life.” The New York State Division of Human Rights is the agency in charge of enforcing this law, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, and other jurisdictions, based on age, race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, military status, and other specified classes. For more information about the Human Rights Law and the work of the agency, please visit the Division of Human Rights’ website at www.dhr.ny.gov.