Governor Murphy, Legal professional Basic Grewal, and Congressman Kim Maintain Roundtable Dialogue on Rise in Bias Incidents in New Jersey
AG Grewal and Colonel Callahan publish preliminary data on bias incidents for 2020
TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, and US Congressman Andy Kim held a panel discussion on bias and hate crime today, one week after a rampage in Atlanta, Georgia that killed eight people, including six Asian women.
The roundtable came when Attorney General Grewal and State Police Superintendent Patrick J. Callahan released preliminary data that reported 1,441 bias incidents in New Jersey in 2020 – the highest annual total ever – with a dramatic increase in incidents against Blacks, Hispanic / Latinos, Asians, and LGBTQ + individuals.
“When we were strongly reminded of the terrible gunfights in Atlanta last week, our country has a hate problem.” said Governor Phil Murphy. “And the data we just released in New Jersey shows that we’re not immune to it. We held a round table today because we are talking about this issue and we need to address it directly. We are taking the lead through innovative initiatives to identify the root causes of bias and intolerance and take the right steps to eradicate hatred in our wonderfully diverse state. We are committed to protecting our residents and making New Jersey safer, stronger and more equitable. “
“Today’s coverage should serve as a wake-up call to all of us that we must redouble our efforts to tackle this rising tide of hatred and intolerance that we have experienced not only in our country but also in the garden state. “said Attorney General Grewal. “While the behavior of many of our executives and the failure of social media platforms to take appropriate action contributed to this surge, in New Jersey we are doing everything we can to keep hatred from normalizing. I am confident that by raising awareness like we are today, and through our increased enforcement and education efforts, we will begin to reverse these alarming trends. “
“The fight against Asian hatred begins with raising Asian voices. The pain of discrimination has been felt by so many in our state and country, and last week’s murders were a powerful example of the high cost of inaction. ” said Congressman Andy Kim. “I want to thank Governor Murphy and Attorney General Grewal for joining me in telling the stories of the AAPI New Jerseyans. Being heard is an important step towards healing and towards the solutions we need now to put an end to these horrific acts. “
“While bias incidents are trending in the wrong direction, the New Jersey law enforcement community is moving in the right direction by implementing a number of proactive initiatives to combat hate and intolerance, including increasing the frequency of bias data being published in education programs and one online Reporting portal to make it easier for residents to report bias incidents, ”he said Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Earlier this year, the New Jersey State Police reaffirmed their commitment to treating all residents of our diverse state with professionalism and compassion by establishing the Office of Employee Relations and Public Relations. This new office is made up of coordinated units that will allow us to expand our contact options across the state, and our newly created Diversity and Inclusion Department – the first of its kind in our 100-year history – will lead outreach for underserved communities and implement strategic inclusion initiatives for both our recruited and civilian members and our communities across the state. “
According to preliminary data released today by Attorney General Grewal and Colonel Callahan, 1,441 incidents of bias were reported to law enforcement in New Jersey in 2020. This is the highest annual total reported since the bias crime reporting standards came into effect in 1991. The attorney general also announced steps that his office will seek to make more data available to the public on bias incidents, including beginning monthly and non-annual data releases.
The tentative total of 1,441 reported bias incidents reflects a 45 percent increase from the 2019 total. 2020 is the second year in a row that reported bias incidents have increased dramatically. In 2019, 994 bias incidents were reported to law enforcement, a 75 percent increase from the 569 incidents reported in 2018 and the largest one year increase in 20 years.
According to the preliminary data of the reported incidents:
- Black people were the most common targets for bias incidents. 47 percent of all incidents reported in 2020 were anti-black bias for a total of 682. This is an 84 percent increase from 2019 when 371 such incidents were reported.
- Anti-Hispanic bias incidents rose 113 percent from 48 in 2019 to 102 in 2020.
- Incidents of bias targeting those with Asian or Pacific islanders increased 82 percent from 39 in 2019 to 71 in 2020, also more than four times the increase from 2018 when 16 incidents were reported.
- Incidents of bias, related to people based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, or transgender or sexually abusive people, rose 57 percent from 148 in 2019 to 232 in 2020.
- Incidents of bias against Arab people rose 55 percent from 20 in 2019 to 31 in 2020.
- The number of anti-Islamic incidents rose 30 percent from 37 in 2019 to 48 in 2020.
- Reported anti-Jewish incidents decreased by 14 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, from 345 to 298.
At least part of the increase in reported bias incidents likely reflects significant efforts by law enforcement agencies in New Jersey to standardize their reporting practices, build trust with the most vulnerable populations in New Jersey, and ensure that all bias reports reported to local law enforcement are promptly reported to the Country.
The tentative 2020 number of 1,441 bias incidents was compiled under the New Jersey Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system operated by the New Jersey State Police to track crime rates in the state. The law requires every state, county, and local law enforcement agency to provide the UCR system with information on all incidents of bias reported to them. The Attorney General and State Police plan to release more preliminary 2020 data in the near future, which will be followed later this year by a full report on the final data on all bias incidents reported in 2020.
To further shed light on the issue, the Attorney General’s Office and State Police announced today that they will begin publishing data on bias incidents on a monthly, rather than yearly, basis in order to provide continued access to that data as the public moves forward. The first monthly release will be in April 2021 and will be available online to researchers, reporters and members of the public.
New Jersey has taken several steps to improve our response to prejudice incidents and to proactively eradicate hatred and intolerance. Some of these are described below:
- Addressing Prejudice Among the Youth of NJ. In 2019, Governor Murphy established the Youth Bias Task Force to address young people’s biases. The task force released a groundbreaking report in October 2020 that set out broad recommendations, including calling for comprehensive anti-bias training for students in public schools and mandating anti-bias training for all public educators and school employees. In October 2020, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 188 directing all affected government agencies to work on implementing the Task Force’s recommendations.
- NJBIAS online reporting portal. As part of the task force’s recommendations, the Civil Rights Department launched an innovative online portal to make it easier for residents to report incidents in real time from anywhere. The NJBIAS portal can be found at https://bias.njcivilrights.gov. Members of the public can also report bias crimes by visiting or calling http://nj.gov/oag/bias 800-277-BIAS.
- Bias incident investigation standards. In April 2019, Attorney General Grewal released updated bias investigation standards aimed at ensuring a proper investigation of all bias incidents. The standards provide for streamlined law enforcement reporting of all incidents of bias using the UCR system, immediate and thorough investigation of all suspected or confirmed incidents of bias, and compulsory training for police officers on interactions with different faiths and cultures.
For UCR reporting purposes, a “bias incident” is a suspected or confirmed violation of the New Jersey Bias Intimidation Act NJSA 2C: 16-1 (a) (1) or (2) in which a victim is harassed. Assault, terrorist threats or other specified acts “based on race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ethnicity”.
Since the data only captures reported bias incidents, it is not comprehensive as it does not capture incidents that have never been reported to law enforcement. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice, more than half of hate crime victims in the U.S. between 2011 and 2015 went unreporting them.