Colorado Attorney General’s office launches partnership to increase hate crime reporting

The FBI reported a 16 percent increase in hate crimes in the state last year.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser listens during a vigil for the victims of a massacre at a Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque at the Colorado Muslim Society, March 16, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser listens during a vigil for the victims of a massacre at a Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque at the Colorado Muslim Society, March 16, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and local advocacy groups on Monday announced a partnership focusing on what Weiser said is an increase in hate crimes across the state.

Weiser was joined by representatives of the Anti-Defamation League, the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, who are all members of the Colorado Coalition Against Hate. Together with the Attorney General’s office, their aim will be to help increase reporting of hate crimes in Colorado.

Getting there will mean providing more training for law enforcement, improving the ways hate crimes are reported by law enforcement and by the public, and providing resources for frequently targeted groups.

A spokesman for Weiser’s office said they will be providing outreach to law enforcment departmetns for hate crime training through the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, as well as reviewing anti-bias training for potential changes or updates.

The FBI reported last week that Colorado had a 16 percent increase in hate crimes in 2018. Weiser said that number only included reported crimes and may not provide a full picture.

Weiser said any crime “motivated by hate” has to been taken seriously.

“It’s becoming more socially acceptable in some environments to engage in hate, even hate crimes,” Weiser said. “Part of what we have to do, all of us, is help develop those social norms (saying) ‘this is unacceptable, we are all one together.'”

The announcement, made in Weiser’s offices in Denver, came just as local and federal authorities investigate two crimes against faith groups in Colorado.

Last week, a man allegedly threatened people outside a Denver mosque with an airsoft gun. Earlier this month, federal authorities arrested a man they said was plotting an attack against a synagogue in Pueblo. Both incidents were mentioned on Monday.

Scott Levin, the Mountain States Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), said they recently held hate crime training sessions for 10 district attorney’s offices in Colorado. Along with other coalition partners, the ADL has put together a hate crime resource guide.

“It’s so important that (law enforcement) understand what is a hate crime and how to prosecute it,”  Levin said.

Weiser said the partnership will remind people to be their “best, authentic selves.” He noted that throughout his campaign last year, he was proud to share his personal experience as a Jewish man and the son of a Holocaust survivor.

“Together, we can stand against hate and all do our work to make us a more perfect union,” Weiser said.

This story has been updated to include additional information from the Attorney General’s office. 

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