King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg are putting forward a proposal to add resources for a specific hate crime response unit with four deputy prosecuting attorneys.

“Creating a dedicated Hate Crimes Task Force would provide the necessary resources to properly address hate crimes in King County,” Dunn said. “This investment would ensure that victims of these heinous crimes—as well as their family and community—receive the justice and peace that they deserve. I am grateful to Prosecutor Dan Satterberg for his collaboration on this important initiative.”

Currently the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has two deputy prosecuting attorneys who focus on hate crime prosecutions in addition to other cases, and this funding would allow them to focus on hate crimes full time with additional resources.

The proposed total cost to add four more staffers to create the task force would be $549,191.

“Hate crimes have ripple effects that go far beyond the individual incidents—ensuring these crimes are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted is important not only for public safety but to ensure that our communities know hate won’t be tolerated in King County,” Satterberg said. “This proposal adds a welcome and necessary boost to the capacity of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to address these crimes and to continue to work with our community to increase hate crime reporting.”

Already this year the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office says it has filed 10 hate crimes in King County, including three with Asian Pacific/Islander victims. In the most recent case, a man was accused of targeting Asian women and children in two separate incidents (read more here).

King County has seen a ~97 percent increase in hate crimes since 2018. Here are the number of hate crime cases filed, based on the number of cases referred by law enforcement in King County.

    • 2018: 30
    • 2019: 39
    • 2020: 59
    • 2021: 10 (through March 20)

Hate crimes are unique in that they terrorize not only the victim, but an entire community. There’s also the difficulty of proving motive before fling a case – prosecutors are ethically bound to only bring cases they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. That can be difficult in suspected hate crimes where there are no statements indicating the motive for an attack.

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