Governor Maura Healey announced a new statewide initiative on Monday and the creation of the Hate Crimes Awareness and Response Team (HART) by the Massachusetts State Police (MSP).
The initiative seeks to tackle hate crimes, support victims, and promote community resilience in Massachusetts. The new MSP unit is dedicated to building partners at federal, state, and local levels, and with community leaders, to improve the state’s response to hate crimes and incidents.
The administration also allocated $461,920 in Hate Crime Prevention grants to aid programs in schools aimed at reducing bias incidents. No awardees are in Worcester Country, but a A second round of funding is now available.
HART’s mandate includes improving statewide data collection and information sharing to identify patterns and trends in hate crimes. It will focus on increasing collaboration, educational outreach, and developing advanced training for law enforcement. HART, composed of up to five sworn MSP members, will serve as primary contacts for local law enforcement, communities, and religious groups in their respective areas.
“With hate crimes rising nationally and in Massachusetts, it’s crucial to unite in addressing and preventing these crimes. The HART team and our financial commitment to schools are significant steps in our stand against hate,” Healey said. “Here in Massachusetts, we stand firmly against hate – and we are backing up that commitment with resources and investments.”
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) recently published the 2022 Hate Crime Report, showing an increase in hate crime incidents in Massachusetts. The report indicates a shift in bias motivations, with race and ethnicity remaining the most reported bias, followed by religious groups and sexual orientation.