King County Executive Dow Constantine recently released a report on the planned establishment of the Stop Hate Hotline, which was in response to legislation sponsored by King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn to create the Stop Hate Hotline, a community-based alternative to the police for reporting hate crimes.
“With hate crimes on the rise in King County, we must do everything we can to increase access to public safety services for all,” Dunn said. “Crimes motivated by hate and bias are widely understood to be underreported, but by expanding our reporting options, we can collect better data and provide more help to those who need it. “
Last week, a man vandalized the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, an attack local community leaders say was motivated by racial hatred — demonstrating the need for expanded access to hate crime reporting.
The Stop Hate Hotline would provide a community-based reporting option people can go to in leu of going directly to the police. Nationally, it is estimated that four out of five hate crimes are not reported due to a perceived unsafe reporting environment.
The report provides a detailed plan and roadmap for establishing a Stop Hate Hotline, considering strategies that have been successful in other jurisdictions, as well as pre-existing budgetary and staffing limitations. The County’s budget constraints contextualize the ability of the County to potentially implement the Hotline as outlined in the report. However, the report concludes that the Stop Hate Hotline would not only be a valuable reporting tool, but also reflects King County’s commitment to ensuring that every resident feels safe, respected, and valued.
According to a survey from the King County Coalition Against Hate and Bias, there were 643 incidents of hate and bias between 2020 and August 10th, 2023. The survey reports that 84% of respondents chose not to approach the police about these hate crimes or bias incidents, highlighting the need for an alternative reporting system. Since 2018 the King County Prosecutors Office has filed 279 hate crime charges, with anti-Black hate crimes witnessing a 49% increase and anti-Asian incidents rising by 77% from the previous year.
According to the report, the initial cost estimate for establishing the hotline is between $408,000 and $659,000 with projected yearly expenses of between $663,000 and $724,000. The next step in implementation is consideration by the Executive and Council for funding in the fall 2023-24 supplemental budget.