The New York City Police Department is adapting to how it investigates potential hate crimes in a city that has so far seen 130 hate crimes this year, half of those against members of the Asian community.
A new five-person civilian panel was introduced at Police Headquarters in Manhattan on Monday to serve as a check and balance on the investigatory process of alleged hate crimes. The panel is designed to flag cases they think prosecutors and the NYPD should investigate as hate crimes.
Two days prior, police hauled 32-year-old Ricardo Hernandez in after they say he verbally attacked and physically pushed an Asian man in Queens Saturday. The victim, it turns out, was an undercover NYPD officer.
Typically hate crime cases don't come together that fast, and that's why the NYPD is tapping into newly created civilian board for help.
"There is absolutely no place for hate in New York City. As New Yorkers, are greatest strength is our diversity," NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
Four members of the new board were at police headquarters with the commissioner on Monday. Among them, people of Jewish and Muslim faiths, along with an African American woman and an Asian man.
"Very honored to be playing in this role," said President of the America China Public Affairs Institute Fred Teng, a member of the panel.
Executive Director of the Jewish Children's Museum Devorah Halberstam, another member of the panel said, "I feel that we are going to be the voices of the victims because most of them get lost."
The group hasn't had a meeting yet and already have a lot to review.
Reported hate crimes in general in New York City year-to-year are up 45 percent. It soars up to 450 percent when you look at incidents targeting Asians.
The panel's job is to say that should be higher and will send a letter to the district attorney when they recommend a case. They are scheduled to meet twice a month.
"This panel is an layer of review to ensure that we get it right," Chief of Department Rodney Harrison said.
A bill moving through Washington meant to address these very attacks is up for a vote this Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer said. It aims to provide local law enforcement agencies with additional support to respond to violence against Asian Americans.
"We will vote on the bill on Wednesday and I dare any senator to vote against this legislation. If they do shame on them, shame on them," Schumer said.