Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he has signed into law Public Act 22-9, which enhances investigations into hate crimes by the Connecticut State Police.
Specifically, the legislation codifies into law the requirement that the State Police operate a Hate Crime Investigative Unit. This dedicated unit was established in October 2021 under the executive authority of Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner James Rovella. Governor Lamont explained that, along with the other elements of the bill, codifying the unit into law will ensure that it will continue to have the information it needs and be prioritized for resources to accomplish its critical mission.
“Having a dedicated hate crimes unit within the Connecticut State Police will ensure that these crimes are handled in an investigative manner by expert law enforcement authorities who are provided the resources and tools needed to combat them and bring perpetrators to justice,” Governor Lamont said. “This law creates a uniform, statewide system where hate crime investigations will be centralized. Hate has no place in Connecticut. Nobody should ever have to fear being the victim of a crime for being who they are. I am appreciative of the legislators from both parties who approved this legislation and sent it to my desk so that I could sign it into law.”
“We created and staffed our hate crime investigative unit last year with the hopes of making it a long-term, sustainable unit,” Commissioner Rovella said. “We are thankful that this bill codifies its permanency, securing another a layer of protection to our state. As an investigative unit, our hope is that we can continue to connect with our partners to eliminate hate incidents through prevention, investigation, data sharing, and awareness.”
This new law requires the Hate Crime Investigative Unit to be responsible for working to prevent and detect certain crimes that are generally based on bigotry or bias against a race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. In addition, the unit must compile, monitor, analyze, and share data about such crimes.
This law also broadens the reporting of bigotry or bias-motivated crimes by local law enforcement, who would need to report on the broader list of crimes covered by the bill and do so using a reporting system developed by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council.
In 2021, Governor Lamont appointed the first group of members to serve on the newly established Connecticut Hate Crimes Advisory Council. That group, which functions within the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney and is comprised of volunteer members representing a wide variety of community and civic groups, is responsible for encouraging and coordinating programs that increase community awareness and reporting of hate crimes.
According to FBI statistics, Connecticut saw 101 hate crimes reported in 2020, the most recent year in which data has been compiled. Of those, 61 were directed against an individual’s race, ethnicity, or ancestry; 17 involved an individual’s religion; 15