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CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 26

Meeting Date: February 13, 2001

Subject/Title: Memorandum of Understanding on Collaborative Efforts for Combating Hate Crimes or Bias Related Incidents in East Contra Costa County

Submitted by: Larry J. Shaw, Chief of Police

Approved by: Jon Elam, City Manager



RECOMMENDATION 
Direct the Police Chief to sign the Memorandum of Understanding on Collaborative Efforts for Combating Hate Crimes or Bias-Related Incidents in East Contra Costa County.

PREVIOUS ACTION
None

BACKGROUND
As the community of Brentwood changes in its racial and cultural makeup, so do the challenges of providing service to all segments of our population. One of the challenges of providing a police response is to set the level of service for particular crimes or suspected crimes without overreaching the authority of the City, or doing less than is required or expected by our citizens.

One of our strongest partners in providing service to children are schools. Schools are responsible for the health and safety of children in many instances and call upon the Police Department to assist when the need arises.

Because of the partnership between schools and the Police Department relative to safety, and because of the heightened awareness of cultural differences, a response plan or protocol to hate crimes or bias-related incidents became necessary. 

In March of 2000 the Police Chiefs in East Contra Costa County and representatives from each school district, the District Attorney, Probation, and U.S. Department of Justice, began meeting on a monthly basis to develop a plan to deal with hate crimes and bias-related incidents generally, but specifically as it relates to the partnership between schools and the various law enforcement agencies. The protocol presented to you tonight is a result of that work.

Each school district and each police agency believes that "being on the same sheet of music" increases the possibility that each event will be reported, and appropriate action will be taken by the school, law enforcement or both entities. 

This protocol is not a policy. Each law enforcement agency and school district will work within their individual policies to satisfy the needs of their boards or councils, but it does prompt each employee from the various agencies to work from the same perspective.

The expected outcome of this protocol is a more unified response and prompt action on all hate crimes or bias related incidents in East Contra Costa County. 

East Contra Costa County

Memorandum of Understanding on Collaborated
Efforts for Combating Hate Crimes or Bias Related Incidents
in East Contra Costa County

Introduction:

Early in 2000, East Contra Costa County school district and law enforcement representatives met to discuss the need for an organized and unified effort to combat hate crime and bias motivated incidents. Booker T. Neal, an expert on the subject from the Community Relations Service, U.S. Department of Justice, was invited to assist our efforts. Two tasks were immediately identified. 

Ø Bring together resources and expertise to build a Memorandum of Understanding from which agencies could operate, and; 

Ø Identify training and services for participants to heighten knowledge and awareness of prevention and intervention techniques to combat hate crime and bias motivated incidents. 

Attendance at school provides young citizens with one of their first exposures to different cultures. Schools provide a natural setting where young people can learn social skills, which will affect their future attitudes and beliefs, their respect for the institutions of government, and their tolerance for persons of different religions, races, colors and ethnic backgrounds. 

All hate crimes and bias incidents are serious matters that deserve prompt attention by appropriate law enforcement authorities. However, such incidents are especially serious when they occur on school grounds or involve school-aged children. Hate crimes and bias incidents by their nature have a great potential to disrupt the educational environment and thereby deprive students and educators of their fundamental rights to safe campuses. We all have a responsibility to protect the rights and interests of children and to ensure their emotional well being. Therefore, the overriding strategy established by this group is to provide students with a safe environment, one which is conducive to learning and which is free of violence, fear and intimidation.

We recognize that some incidents involving bias or hate may at first appear to be minor in nature. However, we know that these types of incidents can quickly escalate into a problem affecting the public safety. Awareness and knowledge of how to deal with hate crime and bias motivated incidents, will serve students, parents, schools staff, law enforcement and community members well in their efforts to build a safer community. 

We further recognize that some bias-based acts committed in schools may warrant a firm and decisive response even though, technically, such acts do not constitute crimes and thus do not invoke the limited jurisdiction of the criminal and juvenile justice systems. The parties agree in this regard that the definition of "bias motivated incident" is broader than the definition of a "hate crime," so that certain bias motivated incidents, though deserving condemnation, discipline and remediation, do not constitute “hate crimes” which could be handled by the police through the Juvenile/Adult Justice Systems. 

In responding to the evolving problem of hate crimes and bias incidents, the parties acknowledge that they must not limit their focus to those who commit these anti-social or criminal acts. In order to reduce individual trauma and fear and, reduce community tensions, the focus must expand to embrace the victims and potential victims of these acts.

We believe that one of the best deterrents to hate crimes and bias motivated incidents is to affirm, by word and by deed, that such acts will not be tolerated. The parties involved in this effort worked to develop clearly defined procedures so that law enforcement, school personnel and community members would have a single protocol for these types of incidents. The goal was to have all involved parties know what they are expected to do in the event of a hate crime or suspected bias motivated incident committed on school grounds or involving school-aged children. The resulting memorandum of understanding provides such a protocol to insure that threats of violence in a school environment or by school age children off campus are addressed, and whenever possible prevent incidents before they occur. 

In our efforts to develop a common protocol with working guidelines we wish to strongly emphasize our belief that hate crimes and bias motivated incidents are incompatible with the basic educational mission and the environment of any school and our communities.

Aim:

Reduce the number of hate crimes and bias incidents in East Contra Costa County.

Mission:

We agree to support safe communities through awareness and knowledge of prevention and intervention efforts to combat hate crime and bias incidents.

Problem:

Regrettably, hate crimes and bias incidents occur with alarming frequency in our society. This anti-social behavior victimizes communities. Hate crimes and bias incidents, by their nature, are confrontational, inflame tensions and promote social hostility. These acts jeopardize the active and open pursuit of freedom and opportunity. They represent nothing less than a direct attack upon the racial, religious and ethnic heritage of our citizens.

Membership:

The Hate Crime Collaborative is comprised of school district personnel and law enforcement personnel who are willing to maintain a unified effort to combat hate crime and bias incidents. Membership should have the following representation:

Law Enforcement:

· One representative from the Contra Costa Community College District Police Department
· One representative from the City of Antioch Police Department
· One representative from the City of Brentwood Police Department
· One representative from the City of Pittsburg Police Department
· One representative from the City of Oakley Police Department
· One representative from the County of Contra Costa, Office of the Sheriff
· One representative from the County of Contra Costa, District Attorney’s Office
· One representative from the County of Contra Costa, Probation Department
· One representative from the U. S. Department of Justice, Community Relations Service

Education:

· One representative from the Antioch Unified School District
· One representative from the Liberty Union High School District
· One representative from the Brentwood Union School District
· One representative from the Oakley Union School District
· One representative from the Knightsen School District
· One representative from the Byron Union School District
· One representative from the Contra Costa College District
· One representative from the Pittsburg Unified School District
· One representative from the Mount Diablo Unified School District
· One representative from the Contra Costa County Office of Education

Membership Organization/Meetings:

Members from law enforcement and education will be appointed through the head of the organization (i.e. Chief of Police, Superintendent). The Collaborative will nominate and elect a chair and assist chair who will both serve a three-year term. Members, as representatives of their organization are authorized to vote or take decisive action on behalf of their organization. Members shall send a representative to serve in their place for a meeting they can not attend.

Meetings will be scheduled quarterly with the purpose of sharing information, organizing training, and keeping awareness of hate crime and bias incidents at the forefront, therefore creating an on-going effort to combat hate crime and bias incidents.

Roles of Membership:

Law Enforcement will pledge to:

· Give all suspected hate crimes and bias-related incidents occurring on school property or involving school-age children prompt law enforcement response.

· Conduct a thorough investigation with the assistance of school officials, which will include notifying parent(s) or guardian(s) or another responsible adult according to each Department's policy.

· Provide a press release regarding the investigation when appropriate. 

· Designate a specific representative and alternate to receive and dispense information to other members of the Collaborative in the event a bias-related incident or hate crime occurs.

· Work with the Collaborative to continually review protocols, improve communication, and assist other organizations and communities to combat hate crime and bias incidents.

· Joint training for law enforcement and school staff on hate crimes and bias-related incidents.

School Districts will pledge to:

· Have a policy on hate crime and bias-related incidents.

· Communicate specific school rules that apply to hate crime and bias-related incidents to parents/guardians and students. 

· Inform staff of proper responses and reporting of hate crimes and bias-related incidents.

· Provide school programs aimed at improving sensitivity, conflict resolution and personal relationships among students.

· Assist law enforcement with the investigation if it appears a crime has been committed.

· Take appropriate student discipline measures with those responsible for hate crimes and bias related incidents.

· Promptly notify their police agency of any graffiti or vandalism that may express hate or bias.

· Ensure all “bias or hate-related” graffiti or vandalism is photographed before removal or repair.

· Ensure evidence is preserved in the event of a suspected hate crime or bias related incident.

· Participate in joint training for law enforcement and school administrative staff on hate crimes and bias-related incidents.

· Conduct an administrative investigation in response to a complaint of bias in accordance with Governing Board policies.

· Notify parent(s) or guardian(s) of juveniles at the appropriate time and/or at the conclusion of an administrative investigation.

Procedures:

Procedures for Law Enforcement:

Officers will ensure that all hate crimes are investigated, properly classified and documented on a crime/arrest report.

During the initial assessment of the incident, which may include interviews of students and school staff, the officer will notify the appropriate school administrator of the law enforcement officer’s evaluation of the incident and appropriate course of action.

Incidents involving minor students will require the notification of the minor’s parents or legal guardian. Time and method of notification will depend on each department’s policy.

Reports of all completed investigations involving juveniles shall be reviewed by the Contra Costa County Probation Department and forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office if appropriate. Reports of all completed investigations involving adults shall be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for review and prosecution if necessary. School administration will be provided key contact persons from the Contra Costa County Probation Department and the District Attorney’s Office.

Procedures for Educators:

Any staff member, upon receiving information that a person is threatening to commit, or has committed, a bias-motivated act shall immediately report the threat to a school administrator. The administrator shall:

· Report the incident to law enforcement, if a crime is suspected or has been committed

· Conduct an administrative investigation and maintain a record for future investigative use

· Be available and cooperative in providing staff, witnesses and information to law enforcement investigators

· Take appropriate disciplinary action per Education Code, Board Policy and school rules

· Report the incident to the Superintendent or designee

California Bias Crime Sections:
DEFINITIONS:

A. Hate Crime – A “hate crime” is defined in California Penal Code Section 13023, which states in part “any criminal act(s) or attempted criminal act(s) to cause physical injury, emotional suffering, or property damage where there is a reasonable cause to believe the crime was motivated, in whole or in part, by the victim’s race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or physical or mental disability.”

B. Bias Incident – Not all expressions of hate or group bias rise to the level of a hate crime as defined in state and federal statute. Derogatory words or epithets, if not accompanied by a threat of harm with the ability to carry it out, are considered protected speech and not a hate crime but could be considered a hate incident.

C. Race – A group of persons who possess common physical characteristics, e.g., color of skin, eyes and/or hair, facial features, etc., genetically transmitted by descent and heredity that distinguish them as a distinct division of humankind, e.g., Asians, Blacks, Whites, etc.

D. Ethnic/National Origin – A group of persons of the same race or national origin who share common or similar traits, languages, customs and traditions, e.g. Arabs, Hispanics, etc.

E. Religious Belief – A group of persons who share the same religious beliefs regarding the origin and purpose of the universe and the existence or nonexistence of a supreme being, e.g., Catholics, Jews, Protestants, etc.

F. Sexual Orientation – A sexual attraction toward, and responsiveness to, members of one’s own sex or members of the opposite sex, e.g., gays, lesbians, heterosexuals, etc.

G. Gender – Male, female, or transgender (Transgender refers to persons who are post operative, in transition from male to female or from female to male).

H. Disability – Any person or group of persons with a physical disability, or who are mentally challenged.

*Note: The victim does not have to be an actual member of a group to establish a hate incident or crime. It is based upon the perception of the perpetrator.

LAW:

A. Officers will familiarize themselves with Penal Code Sections 422.6, 422.7, 422.75, 422.8, 422.9, 422.95, 11410, 11411, 11412, and 11413.

B. Officers will familiarize themselves with their department’s policy and/or procedures regarding the investigation of hate crimes and bias incidents.

C. Officers and school personnel will familiarize themselves with California Education Code Section 48900.3 relating to pupils who have "caused, attempted to cause, threatened to cause, or participated in an act of, hate violence, as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 233."
California Education Code Section 233(e) identifies "hate violence" as "any act punishable under Section 422.6, 422.7, or 422.75 of the Penal Code."

Determining a Hate/Bias Incident:

Factors to consider when determining whether or not an incident is a hate crime. The following list is not all inclusive, but provides general guidelines for consistent identification of such crimes.

Is the motivation of the offender known?

Are the victim and the offender from different racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender or is the victim targeted because of his or her physical or mental disability?

Were any racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability bias remarks made by the offender?

Were there any offensive symbols, words or acts that are known to represent a hate group or other evidence of bias against the victim’s group?

Does the victim perceive the action of the offender to have been motivated by bias?

Did the incident occur on a holiday or other day of significance to the victim’s group or the offender’s group?

What do the demographics of the area tell you about the incident—was the victim in an area where the predominant population is dissimilar to the victim’s group?

Is there no other clear motivation for the incident?

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