Since March 21, the department has made 17 arrests from 21 anti-Asian hate crimes in the city, which became the pandemic’s epicenter in the same month.
“This increase was cultivated due to the anti-Asian rhetoric about the virus that was publicized, and individuals began to attack Asian New Yorkers, either verbal attack or physical assault. We saw a spike in every borough throughout the city,” Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said on Tuesday, according to ABC 7.
Harrison recalled Asian New Yorkers being attacked in public transport such as buses and trains, as well as in restaurants and even their own neighborhoods. But while the existing Hate Crimes Task Force has done a “good job” investigating those incidents, several complainants were reluctant to follow up.
The Asian Hate Crime Task Force is the brainchild of Deputy Inspector Hsiao “Stewart” Loo, who pointed out that all its detectives are Asians capable of speaking multiple languages.
“I’m very involved in the Asian-American community,” Loo said, according to Spectrum News NY1. “And the sentiment among the Asian-Americans is that not enough is being done. There’s not enough resources allocated to us.”
#NYPD announces new #Asian Hate Crime task force. #NYPD says from March to August, 21 Asians experienced hate crimes. Cops say they faced attacks because of #coronavirus and people blaming Asians. @NY1 pic.twitter.com/WkEQhJ0a0H
— Dean Meminger (@DeanMeminger) August 18, 2020
Loo proposed the creation of the task force in May, hoping that a dedicated team could build more rapport with the community. It currently employs 25 Asian American officers.
Some Asian American leaders have been critical of the NYPD’s handling of cases but praised its new initiative.
“Asian American Federation has been calling for the NYPD to help raise safety awareness in the pan-Asian community since January,” Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation, told NBC News.
“Utilizing the language and cultural expertise of Asian language speaking law enforcement officers to assist victims of hate crime is welcomed, as was promised by the NYPD to the community in the early days of the quarantine.”
“We applaud the city’s decision to create an Asian Hate Crimes Task Force, a move that is long overdue,” Thomas Yu, co-executive director of Asian Americans for Equality, told CNN. “At the same time, far more needs to be done. There is a critical need for resources at every level of government to fight hate crimes wherever they occur.”
The task force will be permanent, Harrison said. Additionally, other culture-based task forces may be available in the future.
Featured Image Screenshot via PIX11 News