Irvine Police Announce New Online Hate Crime Reporting Tool

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Main News Photo

(Orange County Register)

As public officials and activist groups around the country demand an end to attacks on Asian Americans, Irvine police are rolling out a new online portal people can use to report hate crimes and incidents.

It’s part of larger efforts by the Police Department and the city to discourage racism and bias and be more inclusive. Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel announced the reporting tool at a March 19 press conference at the Irvine Civic Center.

City leaders including Mayor Farrah Khan, representatives of Asian American organizations, and several residents also spoke about their experiences and their goal of ending racism.

Orange County has the third-largest population of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the nation, and Irvine is home to the largest concentration of those residents in the county, Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance Executive Director Mary Ann Foo said at the event.

Her group gets calls daily from people in the county who are concerned about reported increases in hate crimes and fear for their safety, she said, adding, “We need to condemn and call out racism and xenophobia.”

In an interview before the press conference, Hamel said the Police Department has always encouraged people to report potential hate crimes, and the new online portal is another way they can do that. It can be found on the department’s website.

“This will allow residents who may not feel comfortable contacting the police to go online and submit a hate crime report or incident,” and they can do it anonymously if they prefer, he said. “This is not to replace an officer responding in person. We still want people to call and we’ll come out.”

Irvine police received reports of 22 hate crimes in the past five years, with most – seven each year – taking place in 2019 and 2020, according to statistics Hamel provided.

Hate incidents, which could involve someone using racial slurs or other actions not deemed criminal, increased over the last few years, with five incidents called in to police in 2018, 11 incidents in 2019, and 18 incidents last year.

Hamel said hate crimes and incidents are generally under-reported and the portal is intended to help address that.

“We’re hoping that it will increase reporting for us and provide us the opportunity to respond appropriately and investigate these very troubling cases,” he said.

Currently, 74 of the department’s 220 sworn officers have an ethnic background other than White, with those of Hispanic and Asian heritage making up the greatest share. Hamel said the department welcomes applicants who reflect the community Irvine police serve, and for the first time, the department is advertising in Mandarin, Korean, Farsi, and Spanish to reach a broader swath of potential candidates.

To boost anti-discrimination efforts at City Hall, the Irvine City Council also recently created a diversity, equity, and inclusion committee, which will look at existing policies and practices and potentially suggest ways to improve equity for all.

Photo by Karen Tapia, Contributing Photographer: Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel speaks to a crowd at the Irvine Civic Center Plaza. A new online tool for reporting hate crimes and incidents will be enacted. City leaders spoke about efforts to be inclusive, and community members shared their experiences of anti-Asian discrimination. The event was held at the Civic Center in Irvine on March 19, 2021.

Category: Community News, City of Irvine