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King County Council further outlines plans for hate crime reporting hotline

The hotline was first proposed by Councilmember Reagan Dunn in 2022.

KING COUNTY, Wash. — King County officials gave further detail Tuesday on efforts to create a dedicated hotline for victims of hate crimes, including hopes for a 24/7 online portal to report incidents.

The Stop Hate Hotline workgroup was tasked with planning out a hotline and online portal after King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn sponsored legislation for it in 2022. The proposal also included a public awareness campaign and reporting requirements for data collection purposes.

The King County Coalition Against Hate and Bias was initially created in 2020 amid a rise in incidents and crimes against Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since 2020, the Coalition Against Hate and Bias has documented 625 hate and bias incidents through a community survey. From the same group of respondents, 91% said they felt targeted because of their race or ethnicity, but 84% said they did not contact law enforcement.

Fifty-nine percent of individuals reporting incidents identified as AAPI, while 60% of reporting individuals were women.

Data from the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office (KCPAO) was also included in Tuesday's presentation by the Office of Equity and Social Justice. KCPAO has filed 279 hate crimes since 2018, with 58% having to do with race or ethnicity.

The potential model for the hotline currently being considered by the workgroup is made up of three components.

1. A centralized database and survey reporting tool accessible to the public in various formats and languages.

2. A fully-funded Hate Hotline Program within the county executive's Office of Equity, Racial and Social Justice.

3. A permanent and independent county commission/coalition dedicated to strengthen efforts to stop hate and bias incidents.

"It also includes raising public awareness about the nature of hate crimes and incidents -- where they occur and how to report them and of course, how to combat them as well," said Senayet Negusse, special assistant to the chief equity inclusion officer.

Also under consideration is expanding the hours of the hotline to be staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, as well as availability on at least one weekend day. A 24-hour online reporting tool and voicemail box are included as well.

The county currently believes it would need one full-time program manager and three full-time hotline coordinator positions, as well as one liaison to the sheriff's office. 

These staffing recommendations were based on learnings from a similar program in the state of Oregon, and the workgroup estimates the program would cost $1.6 million to get off the ground.

A full report is due to the county council in September.

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