Last Thursday, the Arlington police chief, Will Johnson, announced to expand the department’s existing hate and bias crime reporting policy to incorporate “hate incidents”.
Chief Johnson stated that the expanded policy was long overdue after being five years in the making, and that it was expected to help with specific cases, such as the recent incident where racist graffiti was sprayed in a minority-owned business area.
“A hate incident quite simply is a hate-filled act or a bias act that may not rise to the level of criminality, but we all know that those hate incidents cause as much or equal harm in the community for those that that hate is directed toward,” Johnson said.
Officials confirmed that hate crimes involved targeting another’s religion, race, sexual orientation, and gender, and that the inclusion was an important policy change.
The new initiative is aimed at encouraging residents to report crimes and incidents, like the racist graffiti, in order to enhance management of data collection.
Johnson stated that prevention was the key because where there is an escalation of the rhetoric, an escalation of acts soon follow, which results in the transition of a hate incident into a hate crime.
Associate professor of criminal justice at Texas Wesleyan University, Dr. Cary Adkinson, called the new policy to be spot on in preventing small acts of hate to escalate into large scale violence, such as mass shooting.
Adkinson stated that while first amendment rights should always be kept foremost, the new policy allowed the documentation of information and necessary means to track it.