Yesterday, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea met with Brooklyn’s Asian community in Sunset Park to talk about the approaches the NYPD will be taking to protect them, following last week’s announcement by Mayor Bill de Blasio that the city will be deploying more police officers in heavily Asian Communities following the increase in hate crimes against Asians. The meeting was live-streamed on Youtube.
Commissioner Shea also held a press conference earlier yesterday where he introduced the new initiatives to combat anti-Asian hate.
“Like much of America, we have seen a disturbing spike in hate crimes against Asian-Americans here in New York City,” Shea said. “We’re increasing our outreach to Asian American Communities and we’re also adding layers of enforcement. We’ll be using police officers in plain clothes and in teams to prevent New Yorkers from becoming victims in the first place.”
After the press conference Commissioner Shea and other NYPD officers, among them from the Hate Crimes Unit and the 72nd precinct that serves Sunset Park, met with the Asian Community to discuss the new initiative to fight hate crimes in greater detail.
“This issue of Anti-Asian hate crimes is extremely important to me. It’s extremely important to my team,” Jessica Corey, Deputy Inspector of the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force said. “And we are doing everything we can to tackle it, to identify perpetrators and bring them to justice.”
She urged people to “say something” when they “see something.” “If you see something, say something” has been a motto used by the NYPD to encourage reporting suspicious packages or activity. Now they are asking people to report hate crimes.
The NYPD can interpret more than two-hundred languages, Corey assured, saying that if someone does not speak English and needs help all they have to do is call 911 and state the language they do speak, and NYPD will get an interpreter to translate.
“I am here to encourage you that if you do experience a crime against yourself or if you witness something, please do not be fearful,” urged 9-1-1 operator Shrima Jones. “Please do not feel apprehensive to call 9-1-1 because you feel we are not able to communicate with you. We indeed can help you.”
Information to call 9-1-1 was translated in a number of languages, and then two officers spoke in Cantonese and Taiwanese Mandarin to show the crowd watching over Zoom that NYPD officers do, indeed, speak many languages.
Part of the new initiative will also include making different brochures about how to report a hate crime in different languages and distribute them to Asian communities.
The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force’s Twitter account also shares information about how and where to report hate crimes and other important information.
Deborah Lauter, the Executive Director of the Office for the New York City Prevention of Hate Crime, stressed that the first and foremost action the city is taking is placing police officers in the Asian community. Lauter said that they will also be working to get all the AAPI and non-AAPI community leaders to come together and build relationships in order to tackle hate crimes.
“We need to start doing a better job of breaking down silos between our communities… breaking down stereotypes, and getting to know each other,” she said, adding that the city is working with 18 different agencies including the NYPD, the Department of Education, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the City’s Commission on Human Rights to implement its agenda.
Lauter said that education is an important factor in fighting hate and bigotry: “Nobody is born hating, hate is learned and it can be unlearned. So we are working on educational materials particularly for our youth to get them to understand the consequences of prejudice and bigotry and how it can lead to violence and hate.”
Due to the time limit, the speakers at the event were not able to answer a lot of questions. They encouraged everyone to email any questions they have at Gerber.Fernandez@nypd.org and at email@example.com promising they will respond.