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From the Desk of Assemblyman Thomas Alfano: August 21, 2009

Alfano Applauds Recommendations of Hate Crimes Task Force

Assemblyman Tom Alfano applauded the recommendations of Governor David A. Paterson’s Hate Crimes Task Force to help New Yorkers better respond to and prevent bias crimes. The task force, which the Governor established in January of 2009 following a series of bias-motivated attacks across the state, outlined a multifaceted approach to addressing the issue. The proposals include the development of curricula for students and school staff; enhanced training for law enforcement on hate crimes; and the implementation of a consistent approach that agencies and community-based organizations should adopt when responding to victims.

“We in New York cannot and will not allow bias and ignorance to infect our communities and deny our citizens the respect that they deserve,” Governor Paterson said in a statement. “I am grateful to the members of the Hate Crimes Task Force for their thorough examination of this issue and look forward to reviewing their recommendations for both how to respond to and stop bias-motivated crimes in New York.”

“Clearly we need to take this issue head-on and establish protocols and mechanisms to fight bias and hate. Hatred in all its forms has to be stamped out wherever it rears its ugly head. These recommendations are just the first steps in working toward fighting prejudice and discrimination. The Assembly has taken the lead in this fight and I’m proud that everyone is working together,” said Assemblyman Alfano.

“I am very supportive of protocols that help law enforcement identify and tackle hate crimes in communities. Further, I strongly support additional training for prosecutors and support staff to assist in all aspects of identifying and providing effective tools to tackle hate crimes in all forms. Lastly, putting teeth in the reporting mechanisms of hate crimes will help law enforcement do their jobs. These are just first steps and whether it is hate crime based on ethnicity, gender or race, we will have consistent policies,” said Alfano.

The task force developed programs intended to address several components of the bias crime issue, as reflected in the three subcommittees: Education and Outreach Subcommittee; Immigration Subcommittee; and Training Subcommittee. The task recommended that the State:

• Encourage and support the development of curricula on hate crimes for students and school staff;

• Create and implement a “hate crimes model policy” for police officers that outlines duties and responsibilities when confronted with hate crime;

• Expand hate crimes training for police officers;

• Provide additional training initiatives for prosecutors;

• Develop protocols for State agencies and community-based organizations to provide a consistent approach in responding to victims of hate crimes;

• Streamline access to government services for limited English-speaking communities;

• Strengthen hate crime reporting.

The recommendations are available on the Internet by simply logging onto www.ny.gov/governor/press/pdf/press_9815091_TaskForceReport.pdf. The full report will be posted on the Department of Criminal Justice Services at criminaljustice.state.ny.us.

The Task Force includes representatives from the Crime Victims Board, the Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Division of Human Rights, the Department of Labor, the Department of State, the New York State Police and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

Governor Paterson created the Task Force after bias-related assaults last fall, in Staten Island, Long Island and New York City and after meeting with survivors of these devastating crimes. Since then, there has been at least one more high-profile crime allegedly motivated by bias, a plot to plant a bomb outside a Riverdale synagogue, reported in the state.

According to the Division of Criminal Justice Services, 596 hate crime incidents were reported in 2008, nearly two-thirds of which involved attacks against individuals. Approximately one-third of the reports involved property crimes, such as bias-motivated acts of vandalism, according to the division.