Washington state has made progress in the reporting of hate crimes

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The reporting of hate crimes is important, but a Seattle Times Op-Ed used inflammatory and misleading language that divides and confuses readers.

The author only served to increase divisiveness and reinforce a narrative around hate crimes and law enforcement.

Last week, the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs released the “2018: Crime in Washington” report, which tracks hate crimes in Washington. It is a more reliable, up-to-date and focused summary of crime statistics from every community.

Rates of hate crimes are driven not only by actual occurrences, but by increased reporting that reflects better relationships and trust with the community, and improved training, awareness and policies within departments. The Seattle Police Department is a leader in implementing community outreach and training. Washington reporting is over twice the national average, which is indicative of these improvements.

The dialogue about hate crimes involves polarized rhetoric. We need to use real facts, and understand that law enforcement takes this very seriously and continues to make significant improvements to our response.

Our organization has partnered with legislators and community groups to enact legislation to strengthen Washington’s hate crime law. Rather than promoting fear and misinformation, let’s focus on real change and our shared commitment.

Steven D. Strachan, Lacey, executive director, Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs