Since the election of a racist to the presidency, the country has experienced a rise in hate crimes. But Seattle's been insulated from the wave of bias-motivated crimes, according to Seattle police detective Beth Wareing, who conducted an Ask Me Anything on Seattle's subreddit forum on Thursday. In response to questions from the site's users, Wareing had a lot of interesting things to say about how police handle such crimes—and how citizens can fight them:
Has there been a spike in hate crimes since the election? Wareing said there's been "no clear uptick in numbers of incidents" so far. There was one incident whose status is unclear—a man talking loudly about how the election was going to affect LGBTQ people, "not in a kind way."
What can we do to combat hate crimes? Wareing said she thinks about this question all the time: "Be kind, be observant of what's going on around you, be helpful if you see someone being victimized (call 911, be a good witness)." She smiles more at people she thinks may be afraid, and she's volunteering for an immigration and citizen workshop. "I want everyone to feel welcome here," she said.
How are hate crimes classified? Wareing listed off the protected categories under state law as, "Race Religion Ancestry National Origin Color Gender Sexual Orientation Handicap (mental, physical sensory)," and under city law, "Marital status Age Political Ideology Parental Status Homelessness."
Are hate crimes underreported? She suspects so, particularly among immigrants and refugees, "due to unfamiliarity with law enforcement in Seattle and language barriers." She said the department is engaged in outreach to those communities.
Who are most targeted by hate crimes in Seattle? Wareing said this may not exactly match who is most targeted, but the demographics that report the most hate crimes are LGBTQ folks, followed by African-Americans.
How many of these cases are solved? "Our clearance rate is roughly 38% on these crimes," Wareing said. (The clearance rate is the proportion of crime reports that result in the filing of criminal charges.) "I really don't like unsolved cases!" She said most occur between strangers.
Are there false reports? "It doesn't happen that often, and I couldn't really give you a percentage," Wareing said.
Do you expect more hate crimes under a Trump presidency? "I think there is a heightened awareness of these issues in the community right now, and for good, logical reasons," Wareing responded. "I am taking the position of waiting to see, while being very aware of the potential and looking for trends."