Law enforcement agencies across
the country are working with communities to prevent and remedy anti-Asian hate crimes that have escalated over the last year following the COVID pandemic.
In response to a surge in violent attacks against Asians in 2020, the NYPD is dispatching a force of plainclothes officers to high-risk areas.
NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea hopes that the initiative will act as a deterrent and make criminals think twice before harassing or assaulting Asian members of the community.
“I’ll say this, so the message is very clear to everyone: the next person you target, whether it’s through speech, menacing activity or anything else, walking along a sidewalk or a train platform may be a plainclothes New York City police officer, so think twice,” Shea said.
NYPD is also bolstering its hate-crime-fighting capabilities by adding two detectives to a hate crime task force and appointing Inspector Tommy Ng to lead the department’s Asian Hate Crime Task Force.
Chief of the Department Rodney Harrison told ABC7 that the undercover officers are currently in training and will soon be on patrol. All of the undercover officers are of Asian descent.
NYPD has also started community outreach programs in Asian neighborhoods in Flushing and Chinatown to answer questions and receive feedback related to combating the hate crime surge.
In addition to law enforcement, members of the community and lawmakers are stepping up to volunteer and patrol high-risk areas. So far, 60 people have volunteered. Lawmakers, like congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis, also called for more police funding.
On the west coast in San Jose, California, officers are going to Little Saigon to reassure Asian community members.
“We know that there is a lot of angst and fear with our Asian community,” said San Jose’s police chief, Anthony Mata, during his visit to Little Saigon. “It’s important for us to have that dialogue, engage with them and see how we can help.”
San Jose police veteran Rich Saito said that he added a patrol unit to a community group that keeps watch over Japantown to support LE’s efforts. So far, he has trained 40 to 50 volunteers to walk the streets and report any suspicious activity.
“I’m very concerned about the safety of this community, especially the seniors. The police department does the best it can, but they can’t be here all the time, every day.”
Meanwhile, in Chicago, police are boosting their presence in Chinatown and are utilizing Chinese-speaking officers for patrols in that area. CPD is also working to educate the community on hate crimes and encouraging victims to come forward.