Newly Created Massachusetts State Police Unit to Strengthen Statewide Hate Crime Response, Support Victims, and Enhance Community Resiliency
$462K in Hate Crime Prevention Grants Going to Schools to Reduce Incidents of Bias
BOSTON–The Healey-Driscoll Administration today announced the launch of a new statewide initiative to confront and deter hate crimes, support victims, and foster community resiliency across Massachusetts. As part of the administration’s steadfast commitment to promoting inclusivity and safeguarding diverse communities, the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) has formed the Hate Crimes Awareness and Response Team (HART), a new unit dedicated to enhancing federal, state and local partnerships and liaising with community leaders to strengthen statewide response to hate crimes and hate-based incidents. The administration is also delivering $461,920 in Hate Crime Prevention grants designed to support or expand programs that help educators, staff, administrators, and students reduce incidents of bias in schools.
As part of the new unit’s mandate, the HART team will enhance statewide data collection and information-sharing to identify statewide, national, and global patterns and trends; increase stakeholder collaboration and educational outreach; develop advanced training in coordination with the Municipal Police Training Committee to equip law enforcement with best practices for hate crime response; and streamline coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. HART is comprised of 4-5 sworn members of the MSP, each serving as the primary point of contact for local law enforcement, community, and religious groups in a specific geographic area.
“With hate crimes on the rise across the country and here in Massachusetts, it is essential that we bring people together to advance proactive solutions and support our communities. We are proud to launch the Hate Crimes Awareness and Response Team, which will play an essential role in addressing and preventing hate crimes, supporting survivors, and strengthening our communities. We are also dedicating $460,000 to school districts that far too often are on the frontlines of confronting bias-motivated incidents and can be instrumental in preventing hate and creating safe environments for students and their families,” said Governor Maura Healey. “Here in Massachusetts, we stand firmly against hate – and we are backing up that commitment with resources and investments.”
“Our administration remains deeply committed to ensuring that communities and organizations have the tools and resources needed to create safe, inclusive, and protected environments,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “This new statewide initiative is another step toward strengthening Massachusetts’ ability to uphold our values and celebrate our diversity. We will continue to confront intolerance with the determination that this moment demands.”
“Governor Healey, Lieutenant Governor Driscoll, and I know that no singular person, office, or organization should have to address incidents of hate alone. I want to thank the Healey-Driscoll Administration for building a strong coalition and implementing a holistic, statewide strategy to tackling these critical issues,” said Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell. “My office and I will continue to support these efforts, while using our own enforcement tools to allow everyone in Massachusetts the right to live free from hate and discrimination.”
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) recently published the 2022 Hate Crime Report for Massachusetts, which recorded 440 reports of hate crime incidents statewide, up from 406 in 2021 and the highest reported since 2002. In 2022, like years past, prejudice against race and ethnicity or national origin was the most widely reported bias motivation, representing 53.2 percent of the total, down from 59.3 percent in 2021. Bias against religious groups surpassed bias against sexual orientation with 21.1 percent, up from 18.2 percent in 2021.
“No organization or community can stand alone when it comes to public safety. In Massachusetts, our partnerships are strong, and the level of coordination is unprecedented. The MSP’s new HART Unit will build upon those connections and strengthen our shared resolve to ensure that hate has no place in our communities,” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Terrence Reidy. “Together, we will stand united against the rise in bias-motivated threats, harassment, and violence to create a safer and more inclusive Massachusetts for all its residents.”
“Recent events at home and abroad provide a tragic and urgent reminder that no community is immune from the unpredictable and devasting impact of a bias-motivated event,” said Massachusetts State Police Interim Colonel John Mawn Jr. “As our nation continues to grapple with a concerning increase in unlawful acts of hate, the State Police will meet this moment with a robust strategy and sustained commitment to confronting bias and intolerance by strengthening law enforcement partnerships, enhancing community engagement, and delivering advanced training and education to stakeholders.”
As part of the administration’s deep commitment to fostering safe and inclusive learning environments for all students and educators, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education awarded Hate Crime Prevention grants to ten school districts across the state. Funding will support educator professional development, community engagement and other costs associated with tackling the reduction of acts of bias and hate crimes in Massachusetts. The investment will promote school partnerships and collaboration with local law enforcement and local community organizations, including local human rights organizations that have ongoing local relationships and expertise in promoting equity, building positive school climates, preventing hate crimes and addressing bias-motivated incidents. A second round of funding is now available and districts are encouraged to apply.
“These Hate Crime Prevention grants will allow our schools to tackle the difficult concepts of bias and hate crimes to create safe and nurturing school environments that allow every student to feel supported,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Patrick Tutwiler. “It’s an honor to partner with EOPPS and Secretary Reidy in efforts to reduce hate crimes across the communities of Massachusetts.”
Today’s announcement builds upon the many initiatives put forward to ensure Massachusetts can embrace its diversity and live up to its principles. As many diverse communities across the country are experiencing an increase in hate crimes, Massachusetts continues to advance the following initiatives:
To date, the Healey-Driscoll Administration has awarded more than $7 million in state and federal grants to help Massachusetts nonprofits, including faith-based organizations, improve physical security and protect against attacks. The Office of Grants and Research distributes millions annually through the Commonwealth and Federal nonprofit security grant programs. Faith-based and other recipients use these funds for infrastructure improvements or security personnel to support their preparedness plans.
Next month, the Massachusetts State Police Fusion Center will host its 5th Annual Faith-Based Organization Safety and Security Seminar. The seminar convenes more than 300 stakeholders to discuss security issues critical to faith-based organizations, including grant opportunities to fund safety initiatives, threat reporting, and an overview of hate groups.
The legislative Task Force on Hate Crimes, co-chaired by Secretary Reidy and President of Kraft Family Philanthropies Josh Kraft, continues advising the administration on issues relating to the prevalence, deterrence, and prevention of hate crimes.
As part of the administration’s commitment to emergency preparedness and community resiliency, EOPSS adopted a statewide standard for a proactive, integrated active shooter and hostile event response. Massachusetts is the first state in the country to establish a standardized response.