TRENTON –Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today issued updated and enhanced Bias Incident Investigation Standards which mandate a victim- and community-centered approach by law enforcement, electronic reporting of bias incidents, greater inter-agency communication, and continuing training for members of law enforcement. The new standards also expand the definition of bias incident to reflect amendments to New Jersey’s Bias Intimidation Statute that went into effect in 2008.
“With bias incidents trending upward in recent years – fueled unquestionably by certain individuals and groups who exploit hatred and intolerance – it is critical that we employ best practices in investigating and reporting these incidents, and addressing their impact on victims and the community,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Law enforcement must be prepared, from the moment a potential bias incident is reported, to conduct a thorough and complete investigation, while treating victims in a sensitive and supportive manner. We cannot allow those who perpetrate these crimes to succeed in sowing seeds of fear and tension among victims and the community at large. Law enforcement in New Jersey stands united with our diverse communities in pushing back against prejudice and hatred.”
The new Bias Incident Investigation Standards, developed by the Division of Criminal Justice with input from the Division on Civil Rights, law enforcement, and community stakeholders, make a number of significant changes to the prior standards, which were last updated in 2000:
“We are grateful to the law enforcement and community stakeholders who worked with us to ensure that these new standards address the critical issues and concerns surrounding bias incidents and their investigation by law enforcement,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Bias incidents pose a special threat because of their capacity to traumatize victims and create tension in a community. These standards ensure that law enforcement responds effectively and sensitively when these incidents occur.”
Attorney General Grewal thanks the following agencies and organizations that guided and provided input in the development of the new standards: