6 major US cities are ramping up police efforts to fight hate crimes

In the 10 days following the election, 867 incidents of hate crimes against immigrants, Muslim-Americans, and others have been reported around the US, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Now, a growing number of city police departments are launching special efforts to combat them.

San Francisco authorities are planning to send undercover officers into neighbourhoods to see if they become the victims of hate crimes, The Los Angeles Times reports. LA and San Francisco police are also monitoring and analysing social media comments that indicate there’s a risk of physical confrontations.

In the same vein, The LAPD is teaming up with the researchers from the global policy nonprofit Rand Corporation to identify patterns of prejudice-motivated violence online. Over the next three years, they will monitor millions of tweets, scanning for those that suggest a hate crime could occur, and compare the data to incidents that are actually reported.

From November 8 to 18, there were 99 reports of hate crimes in California — the highest of any state.

On November 20, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of a designated police unit to investigate hate crimes. In the same press briefing, he said New York will set up a legal defence fund for immigrants, and highlighted an established hotline that hate crime victims can call.

Massachusetts created a similar state-wide hotline following the election, and Massachusetts Live reports it received 300 calls in the first four days.

On November 21, Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams also announced a new task force to “vigorously prosecute” hate crimes in the city.

Detroit’s police department has expressed concern about Michigan’s recent increase in hate crime reports as well, and said investigating them is now one of its “highest priorities.”

In conjunction with federal prosecutors, the FBI is investigating incidents in Washington DC to see whether they violate federal law. In a video posted November 18, Attorney General Loretta Lynch urged victims nationwide to report hate crimes to authorities for possible prosecution, USA Today reported.

Police officials in the aforementioned cities have reiterated that in addition to these new efforts, they are still investigating reported incidents as they normally do.

Hate crimes have become more common in the past year, especially in public spaces, according to an SPLC report. In 2015, reported hate crimes rose 6.8% nationwide year-over-year. (There were

5,850 incidents last year compared to 5,479 in 2014, according to the FBI.) The largest portion of reported hate crimes since 2014 have targeted Muslim-Americans.
It’s important to note, however, that two in three hate crimes are never reported, so the actual numbers are likely higher. And as Mother Jones’ Brandon Patterson points out, most reported hate crimes are never heard by a jury. In a 2013 study, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that just 4% of hate crimes end in arrest. Between January 2010 and August 2015, federal prosecutors brought only 13% of hate crime cases to trial, according to an analysis of DOJ data by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

However, Lynch assured the country in a recent statement that the FBI is playing special attention to hate crime cases going forward.

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