Letters to the editor

We Need A Way To Track Hate Crimes in Westchester

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March 21, 2021

To the Editor:

The District Attorney’s office, working with law enforcement agencies and local officials should establish a hate crimes reporting form.

The attacks against Asian Americans in recent weeks, the hate crimes against African Americans the numerous Anti-Semitic incidents in the county, incidents impacting our Muslim neighbors and the LGBT community highlight the need for a Hate Crime reporting form that would enable public officials and the public to track hate crimes. In 2019 I sent a letter to the former District Attorney suggesting a Hate crimes reporting form that would enable us to track hate crimes.   Unfortunately, it did not get implemented. I hope the concept will be considered by District Attorney Mimi Rocah.

If there is interest, I suggest that a meeting of government officials, the police, representatives of the DA’s office, and civic leaders be held to discuss implementation.

To further outline what might be in the form, my thought is more about collecting data on the crimes. It would work like domestic violence stating if police respond to a crime and if there is any element of hate they must record:

  • the location
  • the offense (graffiti, hate speech, physical violence, etc.)
  • the victim (perhaps it is a person or a school facility or a monument)
  • how the incident/crime is categorized (so many are criminal mischief) or even if a charge is filed

A separate part that is equally as important is:

  • follow-up process with victim (with DV information is given about local resources, with this my thought was always the Westchester County Human Rights Commission is given as a resource, but there should be other resources listed)
  • if the perpetrator is caught
  • punishment vs. initial charges

To me, it is important to first collect data to know what is happening and where. Just getting the police to respond to each incident and record it seems essential. The follow-up might really be with the DA’s office.

 PAUL FEINER

Greenburgh Town Supervisor

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