Commitment to Creating a Safer Campus for Students
The Bias Motivated Incident Response Plan addresses campus climate, accountability with students and advocacy for persons affected by bias motivated incidents. This Plan is being written as a proactive measure to adequately serve students affected by bias motivated incidents. The Plan streamlines existing efforts to address bias motivated incidents on the Central Washington University main campus. Collaborative partners include Department of Public Safety and Police Services, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity Center, University Housing and New Student Programs, Counseling and Wellness Services and the Office for Equal Opportunity.
University Policy/Student Code of Conducts Department of Public Safety and Police Services Policy for Reporting Hate Crimes
Law enforcement's response to an alleged hate crime begins no differently than to any other crime. The Responding Officer must quickly evaluate what has happened and take any necessary action to stabilize the situation. After that has been done, there are two unique areas of concern which should be recognized by an officer responding to an alleged hate crime: (1) sensitivity to the needs of the victim; and (2) the elements of a bias crime.
1. RESPONDING OFFICER RESPONSIBILITIES
First, the Responding Officer should be sensitive to the effects of a bias crime on the victim. A victim of any crime may feel isolated from others, fearful that the occurrence will happen again, and angry that he/she has been made a victim. However, there is a deeper level of isolation, fear, and anger that the victim of a hate crime feels. This individual has been chosen from the rest of the population to be victimized for no other reason than his/her actual or perceived race, religion, ethnicity/national origin, or sexual orientation. There is nothing this person can do; indeed, there is nothing he/she/they ought to do to change his/her race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. And yet, it is because of these very innate qualities of the person that he/she was victimized. This type of personal experience can result, many times, in a feeling of loss of control over one's life. By recognizing these dynamics, the responding officer can address the special needs of the victim, thereby placing him/her at some ease and making it easier to elicit necessary information concerning the alleged offense. Another task of the responding officer is to determine whether additional resources are needed on the scene. At a minimum, the victim should be referred to appropriate social, advocate, and legal services.
Second, the Responding Officer must be knowledgeable of the elements of bias-motivated crime. A bias crime is a criminal offense committed against a person or property which is motivated by the offender's bias against the victim's actual or perceived race, religion, ethnicity or national origin, or sexual orientation. From the initial response, the responding officer should determine if there is any indication that the offender was motivated by bias, and if so, the incident should be classified as a Suspected Bias Incident. The information should then forwarded to a sergeant for review.
The types of factors to be considered by the responding officer in making a determination of whether the incident is a Suspected Bias Incident are:
- Was the incident known to have been motivated by racial, religious, ethnic, or sexual orientation bias?
- Is the victim’s perception that the action of the offender was motivated by bias?
- Is there no clear alternate motivation for the incident?
- Were any racial, religious, ethnic, or sexual orientation bias remarks made by the offender?
- Were there any offensive symbols, words, or acts which are known to represent a hate group or other evidence of bias against the victim's group?
- Did the incident occur on a holiday or other day of significance to the victim's group?
- What do the demographics of the area tell you about the incident?
If these or other factors indicate that the offender may have been motivated by bias, the incident should be classified as a Suspected Bias Incident and sent on to the Sergeant for review. While the mere utterance of a racial epithet by the offender does not provide sufficient basis to report a crime as a Suspected Bias Incident, it, combined with other factors indicating bias, could do so. For the purpose of first-level bias crime reporting, the old adage, "when in doubt, check it out" should be followed--i.e., questionable cases should be referred to the Sergeant for resolution.
2. SERGEANT RESPONSIBILITIES
The second tier in the decision making process is a review of the initial decision made regarding whether an offense was bias motivated. The sergeant who reviews preliminary decisions must be specially trained to the point of being "expert" on bias matters. The responding officer had to determine whether there was any indication that the offense was motivated by bias. The sergeant must carefully sift through the facts using more stringent criteria to determine whether the incident was, in fact, a hate crime.
During the second review, the Sergeant should have time to carefully consider the findings of the Responding Officer and perhaps even conduct interviews of the victims and witnesses, if necessary. For an incident to be reported as a hate crime, sufficient objective facts must be presented to lead a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender's actions were motivated, in whole or in part, by bias. Except as described in RCW 9a.36.080.2((a) Burns a cross on property of a victim who is or whom the actor perceives to be of African American heritage; or (b) Defaces property of a victim who is or whom the actor perceives to be of Jewish heritage by defacing the property with a swastika.), no single fact may be conclusive. Positive answers to the types of questions listed below are supportive of a finding of biased motivation. But, an important distinction should be made. The mere fact that the offender is biased against the victim's racial, religious, ethnic/national origin, and/or sexual orientation group does not mean that a crime committed should be classified as a hate crime. Rather, the offender's criminal act must have been motivated, in whole or in part, by his/her bias.
The Sergeant should seek answers to the following types of questions before making a determination of whether or not an incident was motivated by bias:
- Is the victim a member of a target racial, religious, ethnic/national origin, or sexual orientation group?
- Were the offender and the victim of different racial, religious, ethnic/national origin, or sexual orientation groups? For example, the victim was black and the offenders were white.
- Would the incident have taken place if the victim and offender were of the same race, religion, ethnic group, or sexual orientation?
- Were biased oral comments, written statements, or gestures made by the offender which indicates his/her bias? For example, the offender shouted racial epithet at the victim.
- Were bias-related drawings, markings, symbols, or graffiti left at the crime scene? For example, a swastika was painted on the door of a synagogue.
- Were certain objects, items, or things which indicate bias used (e.g., the offenders wore white sheets with hoods covering their faces) or left behind by the offender(s) e.g., a burning cross was left in front of the victim's residence)?
- Is the victim a member of a racial, religious, ethnic/national origin, or sexual orientation group which is overwhelmingly outnumbered by members of another group in the neighborhood where the victim lives and the incident took place? This factor loses significance with the passage of time, i.e., it is most significant when the victim first moved into the neighborhood and becomes less significant as time passes without incident.
- Was the victim visiting a neighborhood where previous hate crimes had been committed against other members of his/her racial, religious, ethnic/national origin, or sexual orientation group and where tensions remain high against his/her group?
- Have several incidents occurred in the same locality, at or about the same time, and are the victims all of the same racial, religious, ethnic/national origin, or sexual orientation group?
- Does a substantial portion of the community where the crime occurred perceive that the incident was motivated by bias?
- Was the victim engaged in activities promoting his/her racial, religious, ethnic/national origin, or sexual orientation group? For example, the victim is a member of the NAACP, participates in gay rights demonstrations, etc.
- Did the incident coincide with a holiday relating to, or a date of particular significance to a racial, religion, or ethnic/national origin group (e.g., Martin Luther Day, Rosh Hashanah, etc.)?
- Was the offender previously involved in a similar hate crime or is he/she a member of a hate group?
- Were there indications that a hate group was involved? For example, a hate group claimed responsibility for the crime or was active in the neighborhood.
- Does a historically established animosity exist between the victim's group and the offender's group?
- Is this incident similar to other known and documented cases of bias, particularly in this area? Does it fit a similar modus operandi to these other incidents?
- Has this victim been previously involved in similar situations?
- Are there other explanations for the incident, such as a childish prank, unrelated vandalism, etc.?
- Did the offender have some understanding of the impact his/her actions would have on the victim?
3. DIRECTOR'S RESPONSIBILITY
The third tier and final step in the decision making process is left to the Director and/or his designee. Effective January 1, 2005 the Director formed a partnership with the Central Washington University Vice President of Diversity and Inclusivity. In particular, the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusivity and the Director of University Police and Public Safety will work together to review any criminal investigation in which a preliminary determination has been made that the incident may be a Suspected Biased Incident. Both will collaborate on a process for that review and determine if any additional resources would be beneficial to the review. Ultimately, the decision to classify an incident as a Hate Crime or not will rest with the Director of Police Services and Public Safety because of their statutory responsibility. The collaboration with the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusivity will help to insure that every opportunity has been made to understand the dynamics of each situation and the Department of Police Services and Public Safety uses the best campus resources available in the decision making process.
In any case where the Director has determined an incident to be a Hate Crime, the incident shall be included in the FBI's Uniform Crime Report.