NEW YORK - Facing nearly daily reports of hate crimes targeting New Yorkers of Asian descent, the NYPD announced a review panel made up of civilians who will help decide whether the Hate Crimes Task Force will lead the investigation into an incident where bias may not be obvious.
"They may help us see things we may not have seen and ultimately assure justice for victims, which is what we all want," Chief of Department Rodney Harrison said.
The five civilian panel members come from communities that are most often victimized. They will review cases and send their input to the relevant district attorney's office as well as to the NYPD.
On Monday, the NYPD updated hate crimes against Asians, which have shot up a stunning 450% in New York City in the past year. Police recorded 12 incidents by this point last year. So far this year, the department is investigating 66 attacks.
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 5 NY News app. Download for FREE!
Devorah Halberstam, whose son was killed in 1994, presented the idea of a civilian panel to the NYPD, which has now asked for her to lead it.
"Hate crimes are unique because they are targeted and intentional," Halberstam said at the announcement. "They are purposely intended to hurt the identity of the person."
Prosecuting these crimes faces clear hurdles. In most cases, the attacker has to clearly state during the commission of the crime that he or she is motivated by heat. The civilian panel hopes to get a closer look at cases where that does not happen but where hate or bias seems to be a motivating factor.
"It's very frustrating for me to see a senior citizen, elderly lady, just get beaten up or stabbed but the person didn't say anything and left," panel member Fred Teng said. "Now it's our opportunity to work with the police department to kind of state our cases."
NYPD Hate Crime Review Panel Members
- Devorah Halberstam, executive director, Jewish Children's Museum
- Fred Teng, president, America China Public Affairs Institute
- Pia Raymond, author, professor, and social worker
- Ed Powell, president, 70th Precinct Community Council
- David Warren, member, Manhattan Community Board 4; board member, ChekPeds
Police Commissioner Statement
"Our continuing partnerships with the community remain the cornerstone of our policing philosophy. Whether teaming our cops up with the community to clean graffiti, partnering with esteemed advisors to reimagine policing for the 21st Century or ensuring an independent assessment of all potential hate crimes, we are always striving to make the department fairer, stronger and more effective." —Commissioner Dermot Shea