Undercover New York City police officers will begin serving as decoys in an attempt to prevent hate crimes from happening.
“We’ll be using police officers in plainclothes and in teams to prevent New Yorkers from becoming victims in the first place. And I’ll say this so the message is very clear to everyone. The next person you target whether it’s through speech, menacing activity, or anything else walking along a sidewalk or on a train platform may be a plainclothes New York City police officer. So think twice,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said during a press conference.
Officials declined to say how many undercover officers will be used as decoys.
Rodney Harrison, the department chief, said there’s a “robust team” of undercover officers.
“They’ll be trained right away and we’ll get them out there as quickly as possible,” he said.
Hate crimes against Asian-Americans have risen in the city in recent months. Twenty-seven incidents were recorded in 2020 by NYPD, up from a single report the year prior.
That jump happened even as the total number of reported incidents dropped from 420 to 265.
Police are investigating or have solved 12 anti-Asian attacks this year.
“Like much of America we’ve seen a disturbing spike in hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans in New York City,” Shea said.
Other large cities also saw a rise in numbers last year, though overall Asian Americans rarely face such incidents. The majority of hate crime victims in New York City are Jewish.
The NYPD already last year created an Asian Hate Crime Task Force, which includes 25 Asian-American officers who speak English and at least one additional language. Officials haven’t put together a similar task force for dealing with anti-Semitic crimes.
Two new detectives are being added to task force, while Tommy Ng is taking over as its leader, due to the retirement of Stewart Loo.
As part of its effort to combat hate crimes, NYPD officials have recently held forums in communities that are predominately Asian and are handing out posters and leaflets to businesses and residents there to let them know how to report if they’ve been a victim of an attack.
“People want to know, ‘what do I do? What are the rules? Who do I contact? How do I come forth? How can we have more diversity in the NYPD?’” Harrison said.