Criminal

HATE CRIMES

By September 1, 2015 No Comments

The Fort Worth Police Department provides police services to the community in a nonpartisan, fair, equitable, and
objective manner without consideration of race, color, gender, age, national origin, religion, disability, economic status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, transgender status, membership in a cultural group or other individual characteristics or distinctions. It must be the guiding principle of the Fort Worth Police Department to bring the investigation and enforcement elements into action following any and all reported or observed incidents of hatred directed toward an individual because of race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
A. Hate Crime or Bias Crime is not a separate, distinct crime, but rather a traditional offense motivated by the offender’s bias. A bias is a preconceived negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons based on their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, sexual identity, or ethnicity/national origin; therefore, the offenders criminal act must have been motivated in whole or in part by their bias. Hate Crime is not a specific offense that any person can be charged with but rather a penalty enhancement. Officers cannot enhance the level of the crime at the time of booking even if there is sufficient evidence that the crime was motivated because of bias or prejudice. The decision to enhance the offense is made by prosecution at time of trial and not by law enforcement.
B. The following procedures establish guidelines for officers in identifying and investigating potential hate crimes and ensure accurate reporting of hate crimes.
Procedures for investigating potential hate crimes:
1. Officers responding to the scene of potential hate crimes must:
a. Conduct a thorough on-scene investigation to include interviewing witnesses, victims and others to determine what circumstances, if any, indicate the offense was motivated by a bias. Officers must use the following criteria to identify hate crimes:
(1) Motive, or lack of apparent motive,
(2) Display of any offensive symbols, words or acts,
(3) Prior history of similar offenses against the same victim group,
(4) Statements made by suspects, victims, or witnesses,
(5) Identifiable bias-related objects were used by the suspect,
(6) Victim has received bias-related threats or harassment prior to the crime’s occurrence, or
(7) Suspect has made oral or written statements against the victim or victims group that express bias.
b. If the investigating officer collects sufficient objective facts to indicate the offender may have been motivated by bias, then the officer should request Communications to notify the Major Case Unit, or the commander after normal duty hours.
c. The Public Relations Office must be notified of any potential hate crime involving serious bodily injury, abduction, or in which the circumstances indicate the necessity for immediate response by investigators, i.e., cross burnings, riots, etc.
d. Officers investigating potential hate crimes must make every attempt to lessen the impact of the offense on the victim, including removal of visible offensive materials such as burnt crosses, graffiti, etc. after it has been processed for evidence and documented for criminal case.
The officer will contact the Police Information Center (PIC) so that the Transportation and Public Works Department may be contacted to provide pickup service, painting, sandblasting, etc.
2. Field supervisors must be responsible for determining the need to request other city departments, based on the nature of the material to be removed and the urgency required.
C. Investigative Responsibilities
1. All hate crimes/bias crimes must be investigated by Major Case, who must also be responsible for filing of all cases regardless of the offense.
2. The investigating officer first responding to the original call must determine if an offense is a hate crime, based on the definition, evidence, and other pertinent facts. The report must then be reviewed by Major Case investigators, who will make the final determination.
3. Should it be determined that an offense is not a hate crime but was originally designated as such, the Major Case supervisor must notify the respective field operations division supervisor before supplementing the report and transferring the investigation.
4. Should it be determined that an offense is a hate crime but was not originally designated as such, the respective field operations division supervisor receiving the report must notify the Major Case supervisor before supplementing the report and transferring the investigation.
5. Major Case investigators must ensure that contact is made in person with each individual victim of a hate crime as soon as practical, and must coordinate with Victims Assistance.
6. Major Case must be responsible for coordinating the investigation with the commander of the field operations division in which the offense occurred.
7. Major Case must compile statistical information on all hate crimes, submit quarterly reports to the Human Relations Commission for their discernment, and provide the Records Division with monthly reports to be forwarded to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
D. Patrol Divisions Responsibilities
1. The commander in which a potential hate crime or incident occurs must be responsible for coordinating with Major Case in order to initiate contact in person or by telephone, depending upon circumstances, with the victim of a hate crime at the conclusion of an investigation or at such a time as is appropriate.

Francisco Hernandez

Author Francisco Hernandez

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