California Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, announced Friday he has introduced new legislation that would ensure that all hate crimes are handled by law enforcement in a consistent manner across the state.
Assembly Bill 1947 would require all California law enforcement agencies to update their hate crime policies to include protocols on recognizing, reporting, and responding to such crimes.
Ting said the proposed bill is in response to a rising increase in reported hate crimes against the Asian American Pacific Islander community.
According to the California Department of Justice, in 2020 California experienced a 31 percent increase in hate crimes compared to the previous year -- with anti-Asian hate crimes increasing by 107 percent.
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"Unbelievably, California does not require law enforcement agencies to have a hate crimes policy. As we see the AAPI community facing a major surge in violence and harassment solely based on their race, we must have consistent enforcement of hate crime laws and accurate data collection," Ting said in a statement.
Although the bill was inspired by a rise in hate crimes against Asians, the bill would address all crimes based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and disability.
Specifically, the bill would call for the Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training to update statewide standards on hate crimes and require all California law enforcement agencies to implement those new standards. In addition, the bill would mandate that law enforcement agencies report their updated hate crime policies to the state Department of Justice.
Ting said the bill is urgently needed, citing a 2018 report by the California State Auditor that found law enforcement inadequately identified, reported, and responded to hate crimes. The report also found hate crimes are underreported by 14 percent due to, in part, outdated or non-existent policies.
The bill is being cosponsored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, D-Los Angeles, and was crafted with the California Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
"Since the start of the pandemic, Asian Americans have been scapegoated, and many live in fear. Elders, including my parents, avoid leaving their own homes, fearful of being harassed or attacked. This bill will assist police in recognizing hate crimes when they see them. Today, too often, they do not," Cal-APABA Executive Director Charles Jung said.