15.120 – Responding to Bias Crimes and Incidents

Effective Date: 11/01/19

15.120 - POL

This policy outlines the Department's response to hate crime offenses, malicious harassment, and other incidents involving bias.

1. Definitions

Hate crime offense and malicious harassment: A person is guilty of a “hate crime offense” (per RCW 9A.36.080) or “malicious harassment” (per SMC 12A.06.115) if, because of his or her perception of another person’s:

- race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, or mental, physical, or sensory disabilities (felony)

- homelessness, marital status, political ideology, age, or parental status (misdemeanor),

he or she maliciously and intentionally commits at least one of the following acts:

- causes physical injury to another person,

- causes physical damage to or destruction of the property of another person.

- by threat, places another person in reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or property or to the person or property of a third person

Crime with bias elements: An event in which a crime is committed that is not bias-based and during the incident the suspect uses derogatory language directed at the victim’s protected status or group.

Bias incident: Offensive derogatory comments directed at a person’s sexual orientation, race, or other protected status which cause fear and/or concern in the targeted community during a non-criminal incident.

2. Communications Will Dispatch a Sergeant to the Scene of a Bias Crime or Incident Along with the Patrol Officers

When responding to a bias crime or incident, the sergeant will make sure that the officers conduct a thorough investigation at the scene of the incident, with special emphasis placed on preserving physical evidence.

The on-scene sergeant will notify a watch lieutenant, and if necessary, confer with a Homicide sergeant.

The notified lieutenant will evaluate the need to notify those higher in command and/or the Public Affairs Unit.

If clarification is needed to determine if the incident meets the elements of a hate crime offense or malicious harassment, the on-scene sergeant will consult with the Homicide sergeant.

See 15.120–TSK–1 Responsibilities of the Patrol Sergeant When Responding to a Bias Crime or Incident

3. Officers Will Document All Bias Crimes and Incidents on an Offense Report

For reports of actual hate crime offenses and malicious harassment, officers will complete an offense report, select either the RCW “Hate Crime Offense” or SMC “Malicious Harassment” offense code in Mark43, and then answer “YES” to “Does the Event Contain Bias Elements?”.

For reports of crimes with bias elements, officers will complete an offense report, select the offense code that matches the crime, and then answer “YES” to “Does the Event Contain Bias Elements?”.

For reports of bias incidents, officers will complete an offense report, select “Incident Contains Bias Elements – NO CRIME” for the offense code, and then answer “YES” to “Does the Event Contain Bias Elements?”.

Officers will select the type of bias they believe is most applicable in the “Hate Bias/Motivation” field of the Report.

4. Cases will be Assigned for Follow-Up Investigation According to the Criminal Investigations Case Assignment Matrix

Follow-up investigations of hate crime offenses and malicious harassment are typically assigned to the Homicide Unit.

The precinct detective units will investigate hate crime offenses and malicious harassment reports that involve only property damage and threats/assaults by juvenile suspects.

5. The Department’s Bias Crimes Coordinator Will Review all Reports Involving Bias Elements

15.120–TSK–1 Responsibilities of the Patrol Sergeant When Responding to a Bias Crime or Incident

The patrol sergeant:

1. Responds to the scene, as dispatched.

2. Directs officers to conduct a thorough investigation.

3. Notifies an on-duty watch lieutenant.

4. Instructs investigating officers to write a Report.

5. Reviews the Report to make sure the incident is properly documented and labeled.

6. Sends an Alert Email with the Report Number to the following:

- Captain, Violent Crimes Section

- Bias Crimes Coordinator

- Homicide Detective Unit or Precinct Detective Unit, as appropriate

- Public Affairs Unit