Crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islander elders have hit close to home for Mountain View police Chief Chris Hsiung, a first-generation Chinese American.
Hsiung was born three weeks after his parents arrived in the Bay Area from China. His grandparents lived with the family during his youth, and he recalled them telling him not to make a fuss.
"I heard it a lot over the years, a kind of sense of don’t rock the boat, don’t bother people, don’t be a trouble to others if something happens to you," Hsiung said. "Just put your head down and kind of plow forward."
But that's a tall order these days with attacks on people in the AAPI community increasing in frequency and brutality.
Nationally, crimes against the AAPI community surged 169% between early 2020 and 2021, with more than 6,600 incidents reported between March 19 and March 31 alone. About 13% of those were physical.
A recent Pew Research survey found that a third of people in the AAPI community fear being attacked.
Hsiung says in order to get AAPI victims to come forward about such attacks, police departments and other agencies need to have people who can speak with them in their language. And all police officers must build trust before they need it.
That could mean attending community events and even showing up for Stop AAPI Hate rallies.
"Relationships and trust are key," Hsiung said. "Then, if something happens down the road, we want to be the first phone call. And maybe they’re not calling 911; maybe they’re calling that officer they met at a special event because they have that certain level of trust."
The chief also encourages anyone who sees something to speak up for their neighbors because it often takes just one person to stop a situation from escalating.