Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced on Tuesday the creation of a dedicated Hate Crimes Bureau.
The bureau will be headed by Assistant District Attorney Kelli Muse, the former deputy chief of the Civil Rights Bureau and Hate Crimes Unit, and will be staffed with prosecutors who will follow investigations from the beginning and enhance charges when appropriate. The new bureau will also conduct outreach initiatives to educate vulnerable communities about their rights and how they can protect themselves from bias-motivated attacks.
"The creation of a dedicated bureau with more resources and experienced prosecutors will help my office to offer the most adequate response to the growing problem of bias-motivated crimes," said Gonzalez.
Recent statistics have indicated an uptick in reported hate crimes across New York City, with over half of them targeting Jewish people. The Brooklyn DA's office handled over 70 cases in the past two years with the top targeted groups being LGBTQ individuals, Jews and African-Americans.
The Hate Crimes Bureau, which previously was part of the Civil Rights Bureau, will be dedicated to investigating and prosecuting crimes that are motivated by race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of the victim. Prosecutors will be authorized to assist in investigations by working closely with members of the NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force, as well as to conduct independent investigations.
"Protecting everyone in Brooklyn is my highest priority and it is simply unacceptable that members of certain protected groups are fearful to walk the streets of our borough," said Gonzalez.
The Brooklyn DA's office also operates a hate crimes hotline at 718-250-4949.