Bias Crime Unit

About the Bias Crime Unit

The Seattle Police Department is dedicated to enforcing the federal, state, and local malicious harassment laws and tracking bias-based incidents throughout the city. The Bias Crimes Unit, located within the Violent Crimes section, is staffed by a full time Bias Crimes Coordinator.  The coordinator, who is a police detective, performs criminal investigations of these cases. As part of enforcement, the bias crimes coordinator works with other government agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney's office, the King County Prosecutor's Office, the Seattle City Attorney's Office, neighboring law enforcement agencies and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. 

The Bias Crimes Coordinator is dedicated to ensuring that residents and visitors to the city are well served.  In order to achieve this goal, Seattle Police officers are trained to recognize bias based incidents and handle them thoroughly, objectively, and with sensitivity.  

SPD Bias Crime Data

The coordinator maintains statistical data and produces statistical reports monthly, as well as a comprehensive report twice a year for the Chief of Police.  This data is provided to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which maintains bias crime statistics, and is shared with the Mayor's Office and the Seattle City Council. 

What kind of outreach is the department doing?

Outreach to the community is a crucial part of the Bias Crime Detectives assignment. Many victims of bias based incidents are members of demographic groups who have never interacted with law enforcement, or have had prior experiences with law enforcement.

The Bias Crime Detective regularly accept invitations to speak at various community groups such as:

  • religious congregations
  • schools
  • refugee and immigrant gatherings
  • neighborhood meetings
  • city organized events

At these meetings information is shared to explain what bias crimes are, how to keep safe if you are targeted, how to report a bias incident, and how these incidents are investigated. 

The department also has the SPD Safe Place program which specifically works to help members of the LGBTQ community in relation to hate/bias crimes.