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Preventing Hate Crimes in Your Community

Experts estimate an average of 250,000 hate crimes were committed each year between 2004 and 2015 in the United States. The majority of these were not reported to law enforcement.

Everyone has a role in stopping hate and creating safe, inclusive communities. How can you take action against hate?

Community policing is about creating and fostering partnerships within the community to combat crime, improve public safety, and respond to disorder. Combating crime, improving public safety, and responding to disorder go beyond law enforcement; everyone in the community needs to be involved in the solution. It is important to include diverse groups whose communities may be targets of hate.

Possible partners include when using a community policing model:

  • Schools and Universities: School administrators, counselors, teachers, campus clubs, or school nurses
  • Justice: Courts, pre-trial services, probation, or corrections
  • Victim Advocates: Nonprofits or social services
  • Federal Agencies: Law enforcement, prosecutors, analysts, victim advocates, or other federal representatives
  • Community Organizations/Institutions: The public library, unity coalition, human relations commission, social justice organization, neighborhood crime prevention association, or groups working to eliminate discrimination
  • Industry or Business Associations: Individual businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, professional associations, or labor unions
  • Media: The local newspaper, alternative weekly news, radio shows, television news or public affairs programs, or popular community blogs
  • Faith-based Organizations: Religious institutions or interfaith groups
  • Civic Leaders: The local mayor, city manager, city council members, or other city officials
  • Law Enforcement: The local police department, sheriff’s office, or campus or school resources officers

Strong law enforcement-community partnerships are critical to preventing hate crimes. Some useful ways to begin or strengthen a partnership include:

  • Network with others in the community and ask who they recommend including in the partnership.
  • Research and understand how involved your local law enforcement agency is with community policing and identify a liaison officer or deputy at local law enforcement agencies who might serve as a community policing point of contact.
  • Reach out to the chief of police or sheriff, as well as any other key personnel you would like to participate in the partnership.
  • Focus on solutions rather than problems when meeting with your local chief of police or sheriff.

Before a community addresses hate and bias-motivated crimes, all stakeholders need to understand the local problem. The best assessment method is the SARA model: Scanning for the problems, Analyzing the facts, Responding to reduce the problems, and Assessing the outcome of the response. The SARA model is primarily used by law enforcement to gain awareness and a better understanding of a problem. It can be applied to any situation and used by any group to address the unique issues facing the community.

Create a community-wide public awareness campaign that provides information, awareness, and resources for community members and victims of hate crimes. The awareness campaign can range from identifying intolerance to providing resources for potential victims. See Appendix H, Organizations Offering Information Concerning Anti-Bias Education, in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines and Training Manual (Version 2.0)

What can law enforcement do?

When a law enforcement agency publicly makes combating hate crimes a priority, it sends the message that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated. This also ensures resources are devoted to the prevention and intervention of these crimes. Organizational change requires commitment, including changes in the agency management, organizational structure, personnel, and information systems. The entire agency should understand the importance of responding to hate crimes.

In addition to the training federal and state governments mandate, many law enforcement agencies train new recruits and existing personnel on hate crimes and related topics to ensure responding law enforcement personnel know how to properly investigate and report hate crimes or incidents when they occur.

Many cities and regions operate hate crime task forces with members from various law enforcement agencies and community representatives. Task forces help coordinate hate crime law enforcement personnel, assist victims, and strengthen law enforcement-community partnerships.


Updated July 20, 2023