- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Nearly two dozen law enforcement officials from across Southern California were honored Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League for their efforts to fight hate crimes.

The Sherwood family prize was awarded at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

Honorees included FBI agents, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, Assistant U.S. Attorney Reema El-Amamy and Trial Attorney Saeed Mody for casework that resulted in the October conviction of two Compton Varrio 155 gang members for attacking black youths.

It was the first application of the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in Southern California.

“Hate crimes are community crimes, there’s not just one victim victimized, anybody that looks like that person and anybody perceived to be like them is victimized,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Detective Christopher Keeling, whose wife was there to watch him receive his second award. “It’s more heinous because people are being victimized for things they can’t help.”

Ventura County’s Senior Deputy District Attorney John Barrick and Santa Barbara County Senior Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Siegel received individual recognition for their work holding suspects accountable for crimes motivated by hate. Such cases can be notoriously difficult to prosecute as hate crimes because they’re often assumed to be gang motivated.

Also honored were Los Angeles Police Department officers who are part of the Counter Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau Liaison Unit and Long Beach police and prosecutors who are part of the IMPACT partnership, which targets criminal organizations responsible for hate crimes.

A selection committee made up of regional law enforcement leaders determined recipients of the annual prize.

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