New California Hate Incidents Hotline Is An Alternative To Calling Police
Hate incidents are historically underreported by victims, with language hurdles and apprehension about law enforcement sometimes standing in the way.
A new statewide hotline is officially launching this week to increase the reporting of hate incidents and more serious crimes by offering to take reports from victims in 200 languages through the help of interpreters.
Callers can make reports to 1-833-8-NO-HATE anonymously without speaking to police. Instead they will reach a "care coordinator" who will take down their account and offer help with next steps such as getting mental health or legal assistance.
Kevin Kish, director of the state’s Civil Rights Department, said he hopes the hotline will help lower the barrier to reporting and paint a more accurate picture of hate activity in the state.
“A lot of people don't report to law enforcement for various reasons and law enforcement is only reporting out incidents that rise to the level of hate crimes,” said Kish, who is based in L.A.
Victims are urged to call in any time they experienced harm, from name-calling to receiving hate mail or being refused service. They can also submit their accounts online.
Kish said data collected from the reports will better show who's being targeted and where, and be used to improve services for victims.
Anonymity is guaranteed unless the report involves child or elder abuse or if the victim is at imminent risk of violence.
Even with incomplete data, the rise in hate activity has been pronounced. Reported hate crimes are at their highest level since 2001, jumping nearly 33% between 2020 and 2021, Kish said.
The hotline was created by 2021 legislation introduced by Asian American lawmakers responding to a rise in bias attacks in their communities during the pandemic.
The reporting system will provide a safe way to report for victims and witnesses, “particularly those who may face language or cultural barriers or are undocumented,” State Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement when the measure was introduced.
The legislature appropriated about $10 million over three years to create and run the program. Another $1 million in federal funds was secured through passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.
The anti-Asian attacks also created a groundswell of support for the $166.5 million API Equity Fund passed by the legislature in 2021.
During the pandemic, community organizations for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders created portals for victims to log hate incidents. The California-based group Stop AAPI Hate recorded nearly 11,500 reports of hate incidents between March 2020 and March 2022.
Kish said the state hotline, which had a soft launch in November, is intended to build on the work of groups like Stop AAPI Hate and other government agencies. L.A. County has received hundreds of reports of hate incidents through its 211 hotline for social services.
Part of his department’s work is to consolidate the data the state collects with that of other groups to better understand “what's going on in California.”
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