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Mayor de Blasio Announces City Will Open Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes Months Ahead of Schedule

June 4, 2019

The office will be embedded in the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and opens months ahead of the November effective date established by City legislation

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes (OPHC) will open this summer and be embedded in the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. The opening will occur months ahead of the November effective date established by the City Council law that originally created the office. The new office will coordinate responses to hate crimes across City agencies, including the NYPD, City Commission on Human Rights, Department of Education, Department of Probation, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and District Attorney’s Offices, taking a holistic approach to preventing hate crimes, developing and coordinating community-driven prevention strategies to address biases fueling crimes, and fostering reconciliation and healing for victims.

The Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes will also support NYPD training, launch support programs for victims, improve coordination on hate crime reporting and work with affected groups to make sure victims come forward.

“In New York City, we celebrate and uphold our differences and reject any attempt to hate or divide,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes will work to root out hate and make our streets safer, which is why we’re moving up the timeline and opening the office months ahead of schedule. We will never stand idly by while our fellow New Yorkers are targeted because of their race, religion, sexual orientation or any other quality that makes them who they are.”

“Celebrating our differences is not only what makes our city vibrant, but also what makes our city safe. By bringing together expertise from City agencies that work every day to promote the wellbeing of New Yorkers, the new Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes will bolster our commitment to keeping New York City the safest and fairest big city for all residents and visitors,” said Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

“The New York City Commission on Human Rights is proud to enforce one of the strongest human rights laws in the nation which prohibits discrimination and harassment in nearly all areas of city living,” said Carmelyn P. Malalis, Commissioner and Chair of the NYC Commission on Human Rights. “The Commission’s bias response team is on the ground across the city working to combat discrimination, respond to bias incidents, and provide support, resources, and education to impacted communities. The creation of the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes will allow the Commission to coordinate closely with our agency partners, share information efficiently, and confront bias incidents, discrimination, and hate crimes as one city united.”

Most recent data from NYPD shows that hate crime incidents in the City have increased by 64 percent since last year. 60 percent of those incidents were anti-Semitic hate crimes. Arrests for hate crimes have also increased this year.

The new Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes will be strategic in using non-law enforcement deterrence, including investing in public education campaigns, outreach and community safety models and preventative best practices. It will also develop responses for when hate crimes occur, including developing diversion programs and other strategies so that the NYPD, District Attorney’s Offices, defenders and judges have options beyond arrest and prosecution to deal with hate crime perpetrators.

The new OPHC will also support NYPD training and other responses that address the concerns of LGBTQ, immigrant and other groups to help improve the reporting of hate crimes; develop support programs for victims and reconciliation programs; enhance data collection and sharing with the NYPD, District Attorney’s Offices’ hate crimes units, and other partners; and strengthen relationships among victims and law enforcement to enhance criminal justice outcomes and processes for victims.

The new OPHC will issue annual public reports on hate crime prevention once the Steering Council for the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes is launched this summer.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “In New York City, our strength is in our diversity and we condemn all hate or bias toward any of our residents. I am fully committed to working with the NYPD, the Mayor’s Office and all other partners to fight the alarming rise in hate crimes. My dedicated Hate Crimes Bureau, which I established last year as part of my Justice 2020 Initiative, works closely with police and community leaders, reaches out to impacted communities, and provides information and educational resources. I applaud the Mayor for establishing an Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes to improve coordination between all agencies.”

Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, “As District Attorney of a borough that defines diversity, I realize how important it is that our communities know we are doing everything we can to prevent hate crimes, prosecute those who would target someone because of their race, religion or sexual orientation; and offer support to victims of these senseless crimes. I am pleased to partner with the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes (OPHC) to keep New York the welcoming, tolerant city it has always been.”

“Now, more than ever, it is critically important that we in law enforcement act swiftly and strategically to prevent hate and bias crimes. With hate crimes on the rise both nationally and in our own backyard, this announcement renews our city’s commitment to reducing these crimes of prejudice and intolerance. I thank Mayor De Blasio and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice for their continued partnership in improving public safety, and I look forward to working with the Office to Prevent Hate Crimes on new strategies to reverse this disturbing trend,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr.

Queens County is one of the most diverse places in the country and people from all over the world come here to make a home for themselves and their families. Hate crimes attack the peace and harmony that we enjoy in this county and because of that we have been at the forefront with the establishment of one of the first hate crimes bureaus in a District Attorney's Office. The bureau has been in existence since 1987 and is staffed with veteran prosecutors who have developed an expertise in this area of law and have achieved a conviction rate of 87%. Hate crimes that occur in Queens County are priority cases that are reported directly to the District Attorney. Our Hate Crimes prosecutors work closely with the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force, and in many instances with our federal counterparts, to aggressively investigate and prosecute bias incidents. The bureau conducts annual hate crimes forums geared to educate and sensitize the community. Our prosecutors have been invited to train law enforcement, prosecutors, public organizations, high school and college students both in and outside of New York state including Puerto Rico,” said Acting Queens District Attorney Jack Ryan.

Staten Island District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said, “Hate in all forms must be universally condemned no matter who it is expressed against. As we have seen on Staten Island just in recent weeks with the detestable anti-Semitic graffiti that was found on a local synagogue wall, those who attempt to divide us with hate speech will be driven out by unity and love. At the same time, my office and the NYPD are committed to prosecuting hate crimes to the max to let people know that such shameless actions will not be tolerated here in our community. But we cannot succeed by just prosecuting crimes once they are committed – we must work tirelessly to prevent hate crimes from occurring in the first place. I commend the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice for taking this issue seriously and look forward to seeing Staten Island as a committed partner in this citywide effort to put an end to hate.”

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