Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Thursday, March 30, 2000

Release #-116-00

CONTACT: Sunny Mindel/Matthew Higgins (212)788-2958


Joins With City's District Attorneys, Bias Victims To Unveil Hate Crimes Task Force

New 24-Hour Hate Crimes Hotline Established

Mayor Renews Call For State Legislature, Congress to Pass Hate Crimes Legislation

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today joined with anti-hate crime groups, Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari, and the District Attorneys of Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island to unveil a new initiative that will help reduce the number of hate crimes and enhance hate crime investigations and prosecutions in New York City. The sweeping initiative includes the allocation of almost $4 million for the creation of a Hate Crimes Task Force within the NYPD and an additional $1.2 million in funding for the City's District Attorneys to enhance prosecutions of hate crime offenders. The City will also establish a new 24-hour, hate-crime hotline -- 888-440-HATE.

Also joining the Mayor at the announcement were Police Commissioner Howard Safir; Criminal Justice Coordinator Steven Fishner; representatives of the Bronx and Brooklyn District Attorneys; Iman Pasha; Edison Jackson of Medgar Evers College; and representatives of the Anti-Defamation League, the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the Empire Pride Agenda, the Anti-Violence Project, and the Domestic Violence for Chinatown Planning Association.

"Every hate crime is a crime against our City, since it strikes at the diversity upon which New York thrives," the Mayor said. "Over the last several years, the Police Department and the City's District Attorneys have made tremendous strides in reducing the incidence of hate crime. This initiative will enable our City to make further progress toward eliminating crimes driven by hatred and ignorance, and it will encourage more victims to come forward."

The Mayor continued, "I also again call upon the State legislature and Congress to enact hate crimes legislation that recognizes the severity of hate crimes and imposes the appropriate penalties."

Police Commissioner Howard Safir said, "The new Hate Crimes Task Force will enable the NYPD to investigate hate crimes more effectively. It will help us identify those who have a history of committing bias crimes and help us prevent other bias crimes from taking place. The Hate Crimes Task Force will create an environment where no one will believe that they can commit a hate crime in this City without being apprehended and prosecuted."

Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau said, "Crimes motivated by hate and bias have especially pernicious effects on society. The expansion of police and prosecution resources will enhance the ability of law enforcement to effectively investigate, prosecute and bring appropriate sanctions to bear on those who perpetrate these most serious offenses."

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said, "Crimes motivated by ethnic or racial bias - particularly those involving violence - are deplorable and can never be tolerated. The Mayor's initiative will help all of us in the law enforcement community to more aggressively investigate and prosecute bias crimes. It sends a strong message that crimes motivated by hate are to be condemned and that when they do, regrettably, occur they will be vigorously prosecuted and severely punished."

Richmond County District Attorney Bill Murphy said, "The prosecution of bias crimes has always been one of my top priorities. In fact, when I was president of the New York State District Attorney Association in the late 1980s, I convinced the Association to change its position and support the passage of hate crimes legislation. Although the State Senate has not yet passed this much-needed provision calling for tougher penalties against bias crimes, I was delighted to learn that my office will be receiving additional funding to actively pursue bias cases and conduct thorough investigations."

As part of the initiative, the Hate Crimes Task Force will receive $3.8 million in funding to quadruple staffing; create a sophisticated hate crimes database to monitor bias incidents and track hate organizations; establish a hate crime prevention training program aimed at elementary and middle school students; and increase the budget for special hate crime investigations, such as the ongoing investigation into the recent acts of vandalism against religious symbols. The additional funding will also enable the Hate Crimes Task Force to increase community outreach and improve coordination with federal, state and local agencies and the City's five District Attorneys. The $1.2 million allocated to the District Attorneys will enable them to devote more personnel and resources to hate crime investigations and prosecutions.

NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force personnel will be deployed to designated areas of the City based on analyses of the number of bias incidents, types of crimes, patterns and community concerns. The Task Force will deploy personnel based upon reported bias incidents and emerging patterns.

Since 1996, the number of bias incidents has declined 24 percent, from 513 reported incidents citywide in 1996 to 390 incidents in 1999. As a result of the creation of a 24-hour hotline and increased community outreach and information efforts, the City expects more hate crime victims to come forward, resulting in an increase in the number of reported hate crime incidents.

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