The Bias Crime Unit is committed to the prevention of bias crimes and the improvement of law enforcement’s relationship with the community. Bias crimes are acts of prejudice, hate or violence directed against individuals, groups or institutions because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ethnicity. These incidents may result in physical or emotional injury, or property damage. A person who is convicted of a bias-motivated crime is subject to extended terms of imprisonment.
The unit works directly with local, state and national police agencies to apprehend and prosecute bias crime offenders. The unit also acts as a liaison between law enforcement and community groups that have an interest in bias incidents, ensuring that the lines of communication are open.
Bias incidents are reported to the prosecutor’s office by various methods but most commonly through the Bias Incident Offense Report. In New Jersey, when a police agency investigates an actual or potential bias crime, a report summarizing the salient aspects of the incident must be filed with the state Office of the Attorney General and the county prosecutor’s office no later than 24 hours after the offense was reported so that all appropriate personnel may respond promptly.
On many occasions, investigations by the Bias Crime Unit reveal that particular incidents do not constitute offenses proscribed by New Jersey criminal statutes. In these instances, members of the unit refer the aggrieved parties to appropriate community organizations for assistance.