Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday announced a series of proposals to combat anti-Asian hate crimes, including improved training for state police, better coordination among agencies and increased outreach efforts.
“Words are not enough, which is why we are turning these words into action,” said Hogan, who formed a work group earlier this year and tasked the members with responding to the problem of increased discrimination and hate crimes.
The work group was led by Robert K. Hur, a former chief federal prosecutor for Maryland, who said that the challenge of combating hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community is not just for government to solve. Community groups and individuals have a role to play, as well.
“It’s on all of us to educate, inspire, discuss and address,” Hur said.
The proposals announced Monday include:
- Updating hate and bias training for state law enforcement officers.
- Appointing a Maryland State Police commander to work as a liaison on hate crimes and racially biased incidents with various state agencies.
- Adding $1 million to provide devices with translation programs to police agencies and victims services groups.
- Adding $2 million in funding to the state’s Protecting Against Hate Crimes program.
- Expanding the nonemergency 211 service line to accept reports of hate and bias incidents.
- Publishing a guide for reporting hate crimes in Asian languages.
- Working with faith communities and nonprofits to create alternative ways to report hate and bias incidents.
- Developing resources for students, teachers and families to identify and report hate and bias incidents, as well as developing professional development materials on Asian American history for teachers.
Hogan also said he’ll encourage law enforcement agencies to prioritize diversity in recruiting, including offering incentives to officers who speak multiple languages.
In the Baltimore region, local police departments have a greater portion of white officers than the communities they serve, and therefore an under representation of non-White officers compared to the population at large, The Baltimore Sun reported in 2019. At that time, Howard County, which had a 19% Asian population, had just 5.3% of police officers identifying as Asian.
The state also plans to have discussions with the University System of Maryland about recruiting more Asian American students into journalism programs, potentially through scholarships or fellowships.
The governor also said the U.S. Department of Justice should work quickly to offer guidance for how to implement the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. The bill was signed into law earlier this year by President Joe BIden, with the goal of improving funding and outreach for reporting hate crimes.
Some of the proposals can be accomplished within the existing work of state agencies; others will require money to be approved in the next state budget.