DENVER (CBS4)– The Denver Police Department has a new plan to address bias-motivated crimes. One strategy is creating a specialized unit that will investigate those crimes.
“When a Bias Motivated incident occurs, it doesn’t just impact the family or the victim themselves,” said Paul Pazen, Chief of the Denver Police Department. “It often times have a negative impact on the neighborhood and our city where this occurs.”
Pazen says it is a different approach to preventing and investigating bias-motivated crimes. City leaders said at a news conference Monday these cases are on the rise locally.
Last year, 62 cases that were categorized as bias-motivated crimes were reported to the Denver police.
“What we haven’t been so great at and we are certainly changing is now coming back and knocking on your door and asking ‘Are You OK?'” said Sgt. Carla Harvard with the department citywide impact team.
Now, police say they will have a proactive outreach coordinator to work with the community to prevent hate crimes, a specific investigative team made up of one sergeant and two detectives that will focus solely on these types of bias-motivated crimes, and a city impact team that will go door-to-door in communities where the hate crimes happen to follow up with neighbors to determine whether they feel safe.
FBI statistics show hate crimes are rising across the country. Data available through 2017 shows increases three years in a row.
“We’re doing this multi-pronged approach, taking a holistic view of these heinous crimes and doing everything possible to hold people accountable for them and get our community back together, healed after something like this,” said Pazen.
Police said anyone who believes they are a victim of a crime because of race or sexual orientation or anything else that defines that person, to call police. There is a specific tip line for bias-motivated crimes: 720-913-6458.
Previously, these cases were investigated by officers trained to handle this kind of crime within the Domestic Violence unit. DPD says that team can now focus on those cases.
“We understand how that can affect an entire community, certainly a culture, entire pocket of people,” Harvard added. “We understand that these types of crimes are painful.”