By Ruth Bayang
Northwest Asian Weekly
A proposed Stop Hate Crime Hotline is one step closer to becoming reality. It unanimously passed the King County Council’s Law and Justice Committee on Aug. 31.
The King County Prosecutor’s Office has reported a significant rise in hate crimes—from 30 cases in 2018 to 59 cases in 2020. At the same time, multiple studies show that hate crimes are still vastly underreported.
County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, who proposed the hotline, said, “A dedicated hotline would increase access to justice for all communities by providing a direct avenue for reporting incidents of hate crimes.”
The motion asks King County to create a workgroup to build and launch a non-police hotline and reporting system that would allow residents the ability to report these incidents.
This workgroup would include participants from the Department of Community and Human Services, Public Health – Seattle and King County, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office, and representatives from community-based organizations that represent populations that have been affected by hate crimes.
The proposed Stop Hate Crime Hotline received $150,000 in funding in the first omnibus supplemental budget passed by the County Council in late June. Now that it has passed the committee, it will be sent to the full King County Council for a final vote in September.
Also proposed is a dedicated Hate Crime Unit within the Sheriff’s Office. If approved, the unit would comprise four King County Sheriff’s deputies and one support staff member. It would be tasked with developing a standard system for collecting, analyzing, and reporting incidents of hate crime, and establishing policies that are mindful of the security concerns, fear, and distress of victims and their families. The Sheriff’s Office would also create a community engagement plan to encourage victims of hate crimes to report them.
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.