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Police Work To Increase Their Awareness Of Hate Crimes



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Police Work To Increase Their Awareness Of Hate Crimes

By Andrew Gorosko

Newtown police will participate in a program later this month intended to heighten their awareness of hate crimes.

On October 18, police will receive laminated, pocket-size “hate crime response cards.” The cards are being provided to 75 local police departments in Connecticut and to state police by the Connecticut regional office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The cards give police officers important information on responding to hate crimes, working with the victims of hate crimes, and pursuing perpetrators.

The plastic cards include a definition of hate crimes, list questions that police should ask when responding to a suspected hate crime, and offer tips for recognizing signs of organized hate groups.

“When hate crimes happen, they hurt whole communities. It is exciting to see so many police departments preparing their officers to respond effectively,” said David Warren, the ADL’s state director. The ADL is an 88-year-old civil rights organization.

The ADL defines hate crimes as criminal acts against people or property in which the perpetrator chooses the victim because of the victim’s real or perceived race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or gender.

Connecticut has a state law in effect on hate crimes.

Police Chief Michael Kehoe said Monday that hate crimes could involve many different types of criminal activity.

“Hate crimes can occur anytime to anybody, “ Chief Kehoe said.

Having the ADL’s cards in hand reminds police that hate crimes can and do occur, he said.

The most recent reported hate crime in Newtown occurred in June 2000.

In September 2000, Newtown police charged an unidentified 15-year-old black Bridgeport youth with conspiracy to commit a racially motivated deprivation of rights, plus five other crimes. Those charges stemmed from a June 2000 incident in which a 19-year-old Asian Westport youth was assaulted at an unauthorized nighttime beer party that had run amok at the Fairfield County Fish and Game Club on Hammertown Road.

During the beer party, the assaulted Asian youth was robbed of money; about $15,000 worth of vandalism was done to his 1997 Honda Accord, thus destroying the auto; and about $3,400 worth of damage was done to the clubhouse on the fish and game club’s grounds, police have said.

The police investigation into the incident indicated that the Asian youth did nothing to warrant being beaten and that he did not provoke the situation. His attackers made numerous racial slurs during the assault, according to police.

State law enforcement officials are co-sponsoring the distribution of the hate crime response cards.

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