Skip to main content

Government Agencies

An American flag hangs from a government office building


CRS works with federal, state, and local government agencies to help address and prevent community conflicts, tensions, and hate crimes. This work is often in collaboration with community organizations, law enforcement, faith-based institutions, and other stakeholder groups. Some ways CRS supports government agencies are:

  • Facilitating training programs, town hall meetings, and dialogues with community members and government officials to address community concerns and sources of conflict, and facilitate collaborative problem-solving
  • Providing technical assistance to develop and maintain Human Relations Commissions and other sustainable mechanisms to ensure productive and open communication between all levels of government and community members
  • Facilitating discussions and resolving tension and conflicts associated with allegations of inequitable access to resources, strained police-community relations, and conflict surrounding changing demographics
  • Providing event marshal and contingency planning training to assist government officials, law enforcement, and demonstration organizers in planning, managing, and coordinating safe marches and protests

Below are some recent examples of CRS's work with government agencies. Additional case summaries may be found within CRS’s Annual Reports, located on the CRS Resource Center webpage.

Case Highlights

Inmates at a corrections center in Rhode Island perceived the facility staff’s treatment of different racial groups as unequal. They alleged staff treated white inmates more favorably than non-white and Muslim inmates. The racial tension escalated from racial slurs to potential violence.

The corrections center contacted CRS for assistance with reducing tensions and helping the center prevent hate incidents in a prison environment. As a first step, CRS spent two months with corrections center staff and state representatives consulting on best practices to address racial and religious tensions. During this time, CRS analyzed inmate demographic reports provided by the corrections center, spoke with subject matter experts, and provided the corrections center with educational materials on working with Arab and Muslim communities.

In March 2018, CRS conducted a Hate Crimes Forum at the corrections center for facility staff. To meet the unique needs of the corrections center, corrections center training staff and state officials developed a program that focused on the culture and religion of Islam and the Rhode Island Hate Crimes Sentencing Act.

This educational forum helped resolve several conflicts at the corrections center and resulted in the formation of a planning group with participants who are equipped to address any future issues and prevent them from escalating into violence.

In the aftermath of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in October 2018, federal and law enforcement officials, community leaders, and faith leaders in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, asked CRS to provide continued services to help calm tensions and address the community’s fears. A group of federal agencies in the greater Pittsburgh area had identified a need to respond to hate crimes and learn how to prevent future hate crimes from occurring. CRS led the interagency initiative to increase the federal agencies’ capacity to prevent and respond to hate crimes in Pittsburgh by forming a working group comprised of local federal employees.

The working group expanded from six to more than 25 members, including representatives from seven federal agencies, the city of Pittsburgh, and a local university. The working group met frequently to discuss how to leverage existing community resources to prevent and respond to hate crimes and how to increase the members’ understanding of hate crimes and capacity to respond to them.

The group planned and coordinated a daylong event on October 30, 2019, at Carnegie Mellon University, designed to facilitate conversations about hate crimes and hate crimes prevention among students, faith leaders, educators, and community advocates. CRS provided facilitation training to approximately 20 volunteers, including EEOC officers, educators, nonprofit leaders, faith-based leaders, and social workers, who led “World Café” dialogues during the event.

The “Forum on Hate Crimes, Hate vs. Understanding: Start the Conversation” was also part of the university’s celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) history month. The first panel included speakers from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Carnegie Mellon University Police. Participants learned how to address and prevent hate crimes and workplace violence and discrimination, as well as how to work with LGBTQ communities and emerging community groups, including the city’s growing Burmese, Chinese, and Korean communities. After the morning panel, two national LGBTQ advocates spoke about the 10th anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) of 2009. One expert included Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard. She described her efforts to ensure passage of the HCPA, and the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s accomplishments in ensuring safety, visibility, and inclusiveness of the LGBTQ community since the enactment of the HCPA. An afternoon panel, “Preventing Hate Crimes and Law Enforcement” featured the Charlottesville, Virginia, chief of police, a Carnegie Mellon alumna. Finally, participants engaged in structured conversation on addressing issues that lead to hate crimes in afternoon “World Café” dialogues.

In September 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington (USAOWDWA) requested CRS’s assistance to address a rise in community concerns and tensions following a series of vandalism, assaults, and arsons at places of worship in western Washington. Federal investigators found several of the incidents to be connected and determined that anti-religious bias motivated the attacks.

Washington law enforcement agencies investigated a series of attacks in 2017 and 2018 targeting Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout western Washington, including arsons at a place of worship in Tumwater, Washington and another in Olympia, Washington. Local law enforcement connected these incidents to an attempted arson and a suspicious device left at a place of worship in Yelm, Washington, where a gunman also shot at the facility in May 2018. Additionally, in Tacoma, Washington, a man entered a Buddhist temple and vandalized religious artifacts. The multiple attacks on places of worship concerned western Washington’s faith communities who feared escalation could include additional property destruction or even deaths. As a result, the faith communities wanted a mechanism for regular communications with law enforcement agencies, as well as resources to prevent vandalism and bias incidents at places of worship.

CRS convened a planning group, including representatives from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS); USAO-WDWA; Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI); Seattle Police Department; and Tukwila Police Department, to organize an interfaith Protecting Places of Worship (PPOW) forum and facilitated dialogue. In October 2018, approximately 50 representatives from local and federal law enforcement agencies, faith communities, schools, and non-profit organizations participated in the program, which was designed to raise awareness about bias-motivated incidents and hate crimes, discuss available resources to address hate crimes, and improve police-community relations. Following the PPOW forum, CRS and the USAO-WDWA co-facilitated a dialogue with forum attendees to further address their concerns. During the dialogue, community members and faith leaders shared their successes in addressing bias incidents at their places of worship. Representatives from the area’s Jewish community discussed their usher training program and representatives from the Muslim community shared how they installed security technology. Additionally, CRS helped identify relevant resources from the FBI, DHS, and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the community stakeholders.

The planning group decided to hold two PPOW forums annually to continue addressing the faith communities’ fears and tensions.


Resources for You

Contingency Planning Checklist (PDF)

Event Marshals Tipsheet (PDF)

Bias Incidents and Hate Crimes Forum Facilitator Guide for Community Leaders  (PDF)

Protecting Places of Worship Forum Facilitator Guide for Community Leaders  (PDF)

Dialogue on Race Program Guide (PDF)

Engaging and Building Partnerships with Muslim Americans (PDF)

Engaging and Building Partnerships with Sikh Americans (PDF)

Reducing Risk During Public Events: Contingency Planning (PDF)

Event Marshals: Maintaining Safety During Public Events (PDF)

Engaging and Building Relationships with Transgender Communities (PDF)

Dialogue on Race (PDF)

City-Site Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (City-SPIRIT) (PDF)

Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships (SPCP) (PDF)

Bias Incidents and Hate Crimes Forum (PDF)

Protecting Places of Worship (PDF)

Updated January 2, 2024